We have been expecting this calf to come any day — since last month! So we brought Lady into the training ring, where she would have a nice barn and we could watch her closely. Her bag got bigger and bigger and nothing. Finally, Will went down to check and ta da! Done deal. Lady had already cleaned up the little girl, who we named Taffy, for her color, and the heifer was nursing nicely. We were so scared she’d wait until the temperature dropped to really cold or a blizzard came. Lady is in with her mother, Surprise, and her big brother (our butcher steer, Black Lightning). They’re all a bit Jersey, more Black Angus, but were all born Taffy’s tan color, changing over to nearly black with brown points and a curly “do” — tan curly bangs! Maybe we’ve started a new breed? They’re real cute, anyway.

We’ve been super busy with our little seed business. Will has set up a table in the entryway and hand-stamps envelopes while I sit at another table in the living room, filling envelopes. I laugh when folks ask if we have machines to do that. Yep, human machines! Hey, we’re a small seed company. It’s funny when I remember that it all started with our beloved Hopi Pale Grey squash, which we didn’t want to go extinct if something happened to us. No business plan, whatsoever. But in these trying times, it fills a need and we’re really happy to help folks grow big gardens. I know I’m already planning what and where I’ll be growing stuff, come spring.

Here’s our non-electric packet stamping “machine.”
And this is our seed packing department.

Yesterday I cut up a venison shoulder into stewing meat and scraps to grind and canned that. Today I’ll be doing backstrap and tenderloin. But, as that was from a big, older buck, it’s likely to be tough so it’ll all be stewing meat … just in case. Bill already fried some backstrap steaks fresh and said he did have to chew a little extra …

As COVID is raging, Minnesota has started some lockdown procedures for bars and restaurants, gatherings, etc., as it must to get ahead of this pandemic. Nobody wants to see this happen. For heaven’s sake, I hate not seeing my kids and grandkids, giving big hugs to them and friends, visiting with people and having friends over for dinner. But I also want everyone to stay safe, not end up in the ER. Please stay safe and stock up on essentials. No matter what the news says, I’m thinking there are going to be shortages at the stores that surpassed what we saw at the very beginning of the pandemic. And remember, there will be an end to this so hang in there! — Jackie


  1. Jackie, if you need any Hopi Pale Grey seeds we would be so honored to share with you. Your seeds gave us a fantastic yield this year. Reach out!!

    • I don’t know of a forum on this subject. I’ve grown Dickinson but haven’t had good results; few pumpkins and quite late for our climate in Minnesota. I seriously doubt if they’re any more nutritious than other pumpkins or squash. All have wonderful, nutritious health benefits and many have scrumptious flavor as well. I’m baking a Borchart’s Wonder squash for our Thanksgiving “pumpkin” pie this afternoon as our cows ate all of our Hopi Pale Grey squash.

  2. Also, I am confused about how much water to add to water bath canners and pressure canner. Some say enough water to cover the tops of the jars when the canner is full, others say 2-3 inches in the bottom before adding jars. Help, please. Thank you.

  3. Good afternoon. I am re-reading an article you wrote in the Backwoods Home Magazine about canning meat. You speak about using a powdered soup base to make additional broth. Do you have a brand you prefer? I could order it online as I have not found any here locally in central Oklahoma. Thank you and have a wonderful Thanksgiving in every way possible.

    • No I don’t have a preferred brand of powdered soup base but I never buy one with msg as both Will and I have serious stomach problems is we eat a food with it in it. Most stores have bullion cubes and also powder (which is cheaper) in the soup area. Happy Thanksgiving to you too!!

      • Thanks again. I just mailed an order to you for seed and a book. Perhaps I won’t have to ask so many questions. 😄

  4. Seeing Will stamping seed envelopes reminds me of a question I have. In one of your recent articles you wrote that you grow a lot of sauce-friendly tomatoes varieties for canning a number of your staple recipes. Are there any favorites you would recommend?

    Here’s hoping you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Without hoards of people (even our most loved ones) it does make it a little easier to concentrate on the many things we have to be thankful for – not the least of which is the wisdom we all get from you Jackie! You go girl!!!

    • Gee Maggie; that’s like saying which are your favorite children!!! We love Mia’s Italian Paste, Enormous Plum, Aker’s Plum and G. Chalmers as well as Ted’s Italian and Ruth Collier’s Large Paste.
      Have a great Thanksgiving! And thank you.

  5. I was planning to shop today to take advantage of some great pre-Thanksgiving bargains … then I read the newspaper at breakfast and town where I shop had increase of 1000 positive cases in last two days and 10 deaths. Nope bargain or not, this old lady is staying home. My sister and I were recently talking about isolating at home and both agreed the best part is not having to deal with idiots. The worst part is as soon as we are told to stay home we suddenly have a strong desire to go out. I don’t “need” any of those bargains to survive!

    • LeeAnn – thank you for not being a Covidiot. Fulfill your desire to “go out” by taking a walk around your property. Those of us masking up, social distancing, and/or staying home are considerate of others.

    • You are so right. And smart too! I see all those people lining up at airports and cringe deep in my soul. WHAT are they thinking??? Viruses don’t spread by themselves; people spread them.

  6. Thank you for the sensible advice on the pandemic but then sensible advice is your trademark! I was looking at my full pantry today and proud that I made it through the first 3 months of our shutdown here not needing anything (maybe some “wants”). I will share my pride with you because I have read everything you’ve written on preserving, chickens, gardening. Thank you

    • You’re so welcome! I’m so glad you are thriving, despite the pandemic. See? We weren’t so nuts, after all!

  7. I agree. I know we’ll try to reach out to a few friends who will be alone for Thanksgiving via phone. (I have a flip phone and slow internet so no Facetime or Zoom….)

  8. I agree that everyone should stock up. I have for myself but also since I give to a small local food bank each month when they give 24 boxes to the community, I have stocked up 3 months ahead for them also. I feel that if we stock up now we are helping others because we won’t have to be out in the stores when others need to be. Bless everyone.

  9. I’m an Adult Educator. We, the organization, has gone to a totally remote approach using Zoom, Facetime, and other approaches. It makes it very difficult to work with new students, but we are figuring out ways to get it done. Established students a a bit easier to work with because of our established working relationships.
    On my home front, a friend showed me how to can meat, and I butchered and canned all my male ducks. I have twenty chickens in the freezer that are next on my list, and I figure I’ll pick up some extra turkey and can some of that too.
    Nothing like new experiences.

  10. Had planned a trip last weekend to shore up some odds-n-ends. Ended up running an errand for my Dad (masked up, at the store when it opened, in and out – hardly anyone there). My sister and I do what we can to minimize Dad having to go out.
    Not out of anything but have reached “safety stock” numbers on some items. I’ve had excellent timing with paper products – so well stocked in that area (almost too stocked truth be told – I got a little zealous ordering back in January but not complaining now). Thankful we have the financial means and we’ve “upped” our charitable contributions since the pandemic hit.

  11. Hi Jackie and Will, we are missing our family as well. All has a member of the household that is considered an essential worker. My husband and I thank the Lord everyday that we have each other to hunker down with. My heart goes out to people having to tough it out alone. Now it looks like the holidays are going to be very lonely. Thank you for keeping us in the loop.

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