We’ve definitely been having some cold weather lately. At night, the lows have regularly been -30Β° F with the highs still below zero. The house creaks and cracks as the logs contract with the cold. It’s like being inside a living creature!

I’ve been watching over the critters daily, putting an insulated coat on our doe goat, Bella, as she is Nubian thin while milking, and she feels the cold where the stout, very fat bucks do not. And Nuevo wears two coats at night and one during the day. He gets along just fine, snuggling up to the pile of goats which lay in the deeply bedded corner. Will took extra hay down to the cows and horses. You can tell the temperature by just watching them. When it is warmer, they lay about, lazily. When it gets much below zero, they have their heads in a big round bale most of the time, munching away. Come to think of it, we eat more when it’s cold, too. Even though we’re in the house!

David and Elizabeth brought Delilah over for a visit just before it got really cold. She’s grown so much already at just three weeks! And she even smiled at me. No, it wasn’t just gas! It’s so fun watching her discover the world around her as she’s starting to look around and focus on things more and more. Alisha was here, helping with the seed business so she got to hold Delilah too.

Elizabeth and David brought Delilah over for a visit before it got so cold.
Grandma got to visit with Delilah too!

Yesterday I got out my tomato seeds and made a four-page list of the varieties I plan on growing this year. So far that’s 143 different kinds of tomatoes! And today, it was the peppers, both sweet and hot. That bunch only amounted to twenty-two different varieties.

I’ve got my tomato and pepper seeds sorted out; I can’t wait to get started planting, even though it’s weeks away.

Due to the increase in seed orders, we are going to grow many more plants of everything so we can harvest both more food and more seeds this fall. Those dratted cows will have to go through two electric fences and crash through stock panels to get in the gardens this year. Next comes the razor wire! And the guard towers with automatic weapons and rocket launchers, I’ll swear. — Jackie


  1. The baby is beautiful and makes me want to see my grandkids who are in Florida very far away from Maine. We’ve had a mild winter until this month. Not below zero but the wind makes it feel like it is. Started my pepper seeds this week and will start tomatoes in two weeks. I am so anxious to get outside! We had problems with deer last year. They even ate the tops of my tomato plants. Never had them get into them before. We put large stakes made from broken pallet and ran three lines of fishing line around the apple trees. Worked for a couple weeks then they busted through but only got apples from one tree. Luckily the moose stay down by the pond and haven’t come up near the gardens. One year the wild turkeys came up and cleaned out the cranberry bog so we had to put up chicken wire. Now they only get the berries that are close to the fence. Love your magazines and seeds.

  2. If you have 143 different types of tomatoes how many do you plant of each type?
    We all love you. Stay warm.

  3. Delilah is beautiful and anyone can see she is smiling because she is content and feels loved. Those who try to say babies are little blobs who only act from instinct and, therefore, only smile from gas are misguided and need God. Cows, on the other hand, WILL get exactly where you dont want them every chance they get and their smiles aren’t from gas either.

  4. Can’t believe I forgot to tell you what a darling that little girl is. There’s nothing like the new baby smell and how wonderful it is to hold one! My son actually smiled at one month. I went in to get him and he gave me a big gummy grin–I sat down and cried. At his one month picture the photographer called others in to “see this little baby smile”. So, that Delilah loves her granny & IS smiling. It is amazing how somethin so little & sweet can stink up a whole room!

    • Yep, that’s so. I tell David she got that from him! Delilah is really smiling. Elizabeth shot a video of her the other day and she definitely smiled. So very cute!

  5. We lost a lot to deer, squirrels, ground hog, etc. We declared war & my husband fixed us a high fence using salvaged materials. That stopped the deer but not the others. Finally he cleared out under the fence and put the electric wire under it. He used salvaged stuff to cover under the fence.& keep the grass & weeds from growing back. We also got one of those solar water squirting devices. All this worked & we even got corn last season.

    We still lost all our apples to the squirrels. My husband concocted a mixture of ground HOT peppers and garlic in water. I canned many, many apples!! He is very creative and can do most anything.

    • That is so great, Wanda! It often doesn’t take money, just a creative mind. After all, our goat barn was built over 15 years ago, out of scavenged material from the dump and although ugly, it still stands and protects the goats in what was supposed to be their “temporary” home. Life happens inbetween.

    • Ms. Wanda:
      Would you please share your recipe and application directions for the hot pepper/garlic spray. I have the same problem with squirrels and would love to try your method.
      Lively Creek

  6. My husband says that he remembers your son David when he was nine or ten years old and you might have been living in that Montana cabin. He has been following your family for that many years! We even have the magazines to prove it :)
    And now another milestone with that beautiful baby…

  7. I can’t imagine having temps as cold as yours!! I’m in coastal Alabama and our high today was 64 and tomorrow it is to be 73. Nighttime temps are in the mid-upper 50’s. Sunday our low for this Arctic/Polar Vortex is only 36 and Monday will be 38 then we warm back up. A fellow homesteader in southern Mississippi keeps talking about the extreme cold we are supposed to be getting but either his weather service is wrong or mine is. I hope I don’t get caught with an unexpected surprise of freezing temps but I’m taking precautions in advance, JUST IN CASE! Everything is budding out, my wild huckleberries are in bloom and my daffodils are about to burst open with blooms so I HOPE we are spared this frigid cold everyone else is getting.
    We had a good bit of rain/thunderstorms last night so my garden got watered really good. My onions are standing tall and pretty as is all my garlic. Just harvested my carrots and Chinese cabbage and continuously harvesting kale, collard greens & mustard. I have 5 eggplants on my bush almost ready to harvest that I covered with heavy plastic and strung regular Christmas tree lights underneath to provide heat. (A 100 bulb strand of lights provides the equivalent of a 40 watt light bulb-just add more lights if the temps drop enough to warrant more heat). It is like a mini greenhouse and has done well using this method. I will prune it back this spring to give it a fresh start to a new growing season. I also dug up some of my best producing bell peppers & planted them in large tubs in my greenhouse. I pruned them back and they are actually blooming and producing peppers all winter! I also grew a tub of sweet potatoes in my greenhouse as an experiment and THEY GREW. I checked them the other day and I have sweet potatoes!! They are small but THEY GREW!! Will be planting my potatoes and sweet potatoes (to make the slips) after the rain this week. SPRING IS IN THE AIR AND I AM GETTING THE SPRING GARDEN FEVER!!
    That pic of you & your grandbaby is PRICELESS! That will be a memory that can be shared years down the road once she is grown. All my grands are grown with the youngest being 8 yrs old & the oldest 23. I hope to be able to enjoy the great grands as much as I did the grands when that day comes. Nothing like watching babies explore and recognize a new world full of new things to them. Cherish every moment you can with them!
    Stay warm and I pray that all in this extreme cold fair well. Spring is just around the corner for you all northerners!

    • Believe me I do cherish every single moment; they grow up SO fast! Gee, I think I’ll move down by you. It sounds so nice compared to -30 we’ve got tonight. Brrr. But it does make us appreciate spring SO much.

    • Goodness Bonnie, you are making all of us in the north jealous! But I loved reading your comments. The Chrstmas tree lights is a good idea.

      • Hi Nancy, Thank you for the kind reply to my comment! I married a Canadian 6 yrs ago and spent 2 winters up in Ontario. I JUST THOUGHT I WANTED TO LIVE IN AN AREA THAT HAD COLD WEATHER & SNOW!!! NO WAY could I handle that kind of frigid weather. Being from coastal Alabama (all my life-64 yrs) I guess my blood is too thin for that kind of weather. I finally told him we would have to move back south and VISIT Canada in the summer time. I never broke a sweat up there as their summers are super mild compared to the 100+ temps (110-120 heat indexes) we have here. We came south & I haven’t been back to Canada since. Were supposed to go back this past spring to finish my husbands Immigration to the US but the pandemic hit and borders closed and remain closed. Oh well, at least he is LEGAL to be in the US, just don’t have his green card. Some day we will get it completed…hopefully! I love to experiment with gardening techniques especially after hearing about the coming Grand Solar Minimum-Mini Ice Age. We will have to have ways to be able to grow food or starve so I try to think of different ways to get things to grow year round, even in our warm weather. We normally can grow SOMETHING just about year round here but it won’t be so easy when the Grand Solar Minimum gets here. Guess we will have to wait & see what happens but I will play around with my greenhouses & other growing methods in the meantime. The Christmas tree lights did an amazing job keeping that eggplant alive & producing eggplant all winter. I have harvested a dozen or more Black Beauty eggplant this winter and got the 5 more I’ll pick soon. I got a jump start on growing my onions & garlic doing the same thing. The heat really shortens our summer growing season so it is always best if we can start things early, to harvest early before those hot temps/humidity cooks our gardens! Guess everybody has their own issues with growing gardens from extreme heat to extreme cold. BUT WE GITTER DONE one way or another! Be blessed and STAY WARM!!

  8. I can fully understand you wanting to declare war on the cattle! Been there, done that with the goats and horses. Life is so fun. Glad you were able to visit with Deliah.

    • We’re going to be very pro-active with the fencing layers this year; we can’t afford anymore break-ins! We sure enjoyed our visit with David, Elizabeth and Delilah. I’ll be glad when COVID gets under control so we can visit with Bill, Kelly, Mason and Ava too. I miss them so much!!!

  9. Grand babies are so much fun. We are expected our 6th one this year. The oldest is 2, so they are all close in age. Got up this morning to 3 of the cows out cruising in the snow. They went down to the milkers and made a little mess. I told the milkers their babies came down to see them. Good thing they are tame and follow me up to their pen. The distance between the snow and electric fence is getting smaller.

    • Yep, then it gets to touching the electric fence and THEN the fun really begins when the fence shorts out! Hurry spring!

  10. You’re so funny, about the cattle! One of my fondest desires is to have electric wire up to protect my orchard, garden, and hens. I’m told they are too expensive to run off our solar power. We have 12 panels to run a 3,000 sq. ft. house and the electric wire if we were to install it. Love your humor, and your intensity to get things done, and isn’t it nice to have a grandchild nearby? Mine are 5 hrs away. Praying for you!

    • What we do is run 12 volt electric fence, powered by a single truck battery or, better yet, a deep cycle battery. They have plenty of punch, more than a solar fencer by far, and are pretty cheap, considering. Ours is a ParMark and cost about $175. We like is so much we bought three over the years!
      Yep, we love having at least ONE grandchild closer. I have them scattered all over, from Massachusetts to North Carolina and Wisconsin, many hours south of us. We hardly ever get to visit with them. That’s hard.

  11. Beautiful baby! Congratulations!!! Finally shelled my Trail of Tears beans last week. Took 2 hours and I got 2 cups. They feel so different than store bought beans. To pretty to cook! Last year was my 1st garden in 15 years. Everything grew, learned a lot. Been looking over my map and starting a new plan. Keep warm!

    • I love beans that look like jewels and taste wonderful too. It IS hard to eat such pretty, shiny black beans!!! I’m so happy your garden did well last year and hope it’s even better this year.

  12. I don’t know if you answer questions here but I have one about planting your tomatoes and peppers. Do you space them a good distance apart to prevent cross pollination? I have read that that isn’t necessary because they pollinate themselves. Then I hear that you have to space them a certain distance apart to keep the seeds pure.
    The baby is so cute!! It is cold here too but I am close to Yellowstone park and it is even colder there. This too will pass.

    • Yes it will, Lynda. We plant our tomatoes about 6′ apart all ways and also stake and cage them. We prune off any straggly stems that want to visit their neighbors. So far, in about 15 years, we’ve never had any crossing. I know some folks say they need to be half a mile away from each other, but we haven’t seen them to be that prone to crossing although I suppose it could happen.

  13. Congrats Gramma-you two look so happy together. 143 types of tomatoes!! Yikes- I can manage 4, maybe 5. But you have something for everybody’s taste and preference.Stay warm

    • And we love to always discover a new favorite or two in our wide variety. And you’re right; they all taste a little different. Sometimes a LOT different. It’s a lot of fun!

  14. What a beautiful baby, and reminder that God is good. Congratulatosn, and thank you for sharing the pictures.
    I feel your pain about the cows – except where we are in Alaska it’s moose. They’ve gotten my entire crop of kale for the last three years, despite my best efforts. (I console myself that one of them may make some excellent organic-kale-fed roasts one of these days.) Rocket launchers, indeed!

      • Yep, in Montana, we had moose, elk, deer and mountain sheep. No matter what, it seems some critter always want to share the bounty without putting in any work. Hunting season does have its perks……

  15. Oh, Jackie, and my husband thinks he has it bad when I grow 12 kinds of tomatoes! And I have a hard time keeping even those few in order. I always wanted to fire a rocket launcher…I know how you feel. Though our winter is nowhere near your extremes, it’s a great time to plan where to put the new seeds I got from you. Such fun to experiment. Stay well and have a great gardening season.
    Delilah looks very content in Grandma’s arms.

    • She’s such a good baby; not at all strange with others than her parents. We love to try new varieties in the garden and every year we discover new favorites. How fun!! Some folks miss so much by always planting the same thing, year after year. We do have our every year favorites but I can’t imagine not experimenting a little. Or a lot! Will, get out that bulldozer…..

    • She sure is! We’re as warm as toast, despite what it is outside. And those cow critters? They’d BETTER behave this year. Or else…..

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