Due to high humidity and cloud cover at night, we’ve had beautiful hoar frost on the trees, weeds, and fence lines every morning. What a beautiful sight to wake up to, especially when there is blue sky and sunshine to go along with it! And, luckily, the temperatures have been very moderate for January in northern Minnesota. We can’t believe our luck in this. I guess the beavers were right again! (But we’re kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop.) It has saved us a lot of hay and firewood too. The horses and cows eat much less hay when it’s warmer than when it’s -40. You can about tell the temperature by just looking at them. When it’s really cold, they don’t get their heads out of a round bale. When it’s warmer, they just lay around. The cows chew their cuds, and the horses stand on the sunny side of the shed.

Our butcher friend, Al, called me a few days ago, saying he had just butchered some nice pigs at his homestead processing facility, and he asked if I would like some fat to render. He knows I love my lard! Of course I quickly took him up on it. Then I called my friend, Dara, who also likes to render lard, asking her if she would like some of the fat. Yep, she would! A few days later, Al called and said he had it all boxed up for me, along with some suet for my birds. I ended up with three heavy boxes of pork fat and a box full of suet. As I still have quite a bit of canned lard, I told Dara she could have two boxes and I’d keep one. The next day she came over and we had a fat grinding morning, using the handy electric grinder Will had bought me for Christmas a few years ago. We had to laugh; who else would actually have fun cutting up and grinding pork fat? Only homesteaders, right?

Dara cut the fat so it would fit in the grinder; I ground the fat and distributed it in the roasting pans.
I just love how nicely the electric grinder grinds the fat with very little work. I do have a big hand meat grinder but that one gives me a lot of exercise my bad shoulder doesn’t love.

The next morning, I started in cooking down my first turkey roasting pan in the oven. I set the oven at 250° F and the fat melts nicely and the cracklins don’t over-brown. I stir it a few times during the melting. Then it gets strained through a piece of old pillowcase, laid in a wire sieve, over a smaller stock pot. I immediately ladle it into hot canning jars, wipe the tops clean of grease then put a hot, previously simmered lid on and screw down the ring. No processing is needed, and every jar sealed very well. (The ones in the pantry that are two years old are still sealed and the lard is pristine white and great flavored.)

This is the result of our light work! Beautiful lard — no chemicals or GMO ingredients like corn oil.

I had to take the day off today to run to the dermatologist in Duluth. I’ve had a bump on my arm that was getting bigger; it ended up the size of my middle fingernail. So she cut that off, along with three other things that were possibly “suspect.” She didn’t seem too worried so I’m trying not to be. But as a 16-year cancer survivor, you always wonder … So I’m praying and packing seed orders like crazy. Spring is coming! — Jackie


  1. Jackie, I read that you said your family gets mostly all your food from raising it. I haven’t even come close to what you do, and it makes me think about America’s original homesteaders and how terribly hard their lives were, and how they died young from the hardship. At my age, 64, I talk about how important it is that we get back to the land, and be self-reliant, etc. but in reality know it would be terrifically difficult. I’m glad you started young so that we get the benefit of your vast experience. Your life sounds so busy, Jackie. Thanks for making time to blog and answer questions.

  2. Prayers for you while you wait for the results. I’m a 19 year survivor so I know how it stays in the back of your mind when something new pops up. The Lord said be anxious for nothing. So I try. I would have loved to watch you render lard. I’ve always wanted to try. Maybe I’ll give it a shot this year. Is it really that easy? Was the fat leaf fat?? Do you have to keep it in the frig during the summer? I live in the south. I’d love to just keep it on the pantry shelf. Thanks for all you do!! We love you

  3. Never thought about canning up lard- great idea!! Best of luck with the lumps, I still remember reading your book about Homesteading and all the hell you went through with that lump, and other issues, and am hoping to heaven that these are benign! Keep us posted please! You are so loved!!

  4. Praying for good results from your biopsies. Thanks for sending out my seed order so quickly. We too have the hoar frost some call it rime frost. Anyway it is pretty. Every day has it’s own beauty. How are the goat kids doing?

  5. Prayers that your biopsy comes back clean Jackie. Loved you hoarfrost pictures, we have rain and more rain here. Some places have had over 6 inches so far.

  6. Prayers that all be okay.
    A long time ago I did the lard to. Loved it.
    I wish my husband was still alive so I could have the hogs in pigs.
    Prayers will be said for you.

  7. I love seeing the beautiful white jars of lard sitting on shelves next to the colorful jars of preserves and veggies . Prayers for your lumps .

  8. Many memories of living in the desert and my folks being the crazy ones with hogs and fat melting in the roasting pan in the oven! Prayers sent for the dr visits!

  9. Hope for good results from the biopsies. What a great gift on the lard!! Would also love to know what brand of grinder you have.

    • Thank you Patricia. After my last brush with the big C, over 15 years ago, also caught very early, I don’t mess around with such things. They scare the crap out of me!!!

  10. Oh my, I can almost smell the cracklings! They are wonderful. Nothing on the market compares. And good old lard makes the best pie crust!

    We will pray for good news from your dermatologist.

    • Don’t they smell wonderful, though??? And cornbread made with a little bit of them added. Mmmmm! Thanks for your prayers!!!

  11. Beautiful lard!! Question: what brand/size grinder do you have? We are looking to invest in one for our venison. Is this the one you use to make ground venison? I’ve found the best way to research large purchases is to ask friends I trust what they use and like/don’t like. :)
    SW Montana

  12. Hi Jackie, cracklings in cornbread is my husband’s favorite. His parents rendered them every year. What about BABY GIRL?

    • Thanks Rose, but David found some at a nursery near where they live. We planted them early and they did well all summer. So here’s praying they continue doing well.

  13. I remember helping my mom render out the lard after we would kill our pigs. My dad brought home to piglets and told us not to name them as they were for breakfast and dinner. So being kids, we named them pork chop and sausage. They taste of the warm crackling is still fresh in my mind. Prayers going out to you concerning the bumps.

  14. The frost has made for beautiful views around Fergus Falls, too..once the fog lifts! Keeping you in prayers for good reports on your bumps. The lard looks great, I’m not sure I’d even know how to cook with it, even tho I remember mom using it. thanks for all you do.

    • We’ve had such beautiful weather lately! Wow, and January is half over. I use lard to fry about everything in as well as adding it to my baking. It adds a wonderful unique flavor as well as extra flaky crusts to pies. Thanks for your prayers.

  15. Seeing that hoar frost on the trees in our area, too, sparkling and glistening in the sun, just fills my soul with gratefulness at the beauty of nature. Jackie, if you don’t mind answering a question…a few years back I was able to purchase a second hand Meiju (?), so happy as I read how you so appreciate yours. I found, though, when I was finally able to use the steamer, the various fruit jellies were more runny than usual. Have you noticed the juice you get from your steamer a little thinner than if it seeped through cheesecloth? Thank you for encouraging self sufficiency through your (and Dara’s) good examples!! Praying peace for you, cancer survivor.

    • No, my jellies are not any softer than they were when I used a jelly bag. Are you using the same pectin product? Some Certo jellies are a bit softer sometimes.
      Thanks for your prayers!! I’ll keep everyone posted when I get the results.

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