After all summer of fighting drought, we are finally receiving regular rain. Last night we got nearly Ā¾ of an inch. The pasture is regrowing and I have to mow the lawn, which is now green again. Thank God! The forest fires have been contained and no more smoke in the air. Whew, it got thick some days! Instead of watering eight hours a day, now we’re harvesting, canning, and seed saving all day, every day. Due to the drought, our sweet corn didn’t germinate decently. (I plant hybrid so I’m not tempted to save it for seed.) I do have some but was worried about having so little. Then I ran into friends in the L & M farm store. We talked garden quite a bit and they said their tomatoes all died due to not being able to keep them watered. But their sweet corn did well. So I suggested a swap; their sweet corn for my tomatoes, which we have tons of. That was readily and happily agreed upon so yesterday I went out and picked them a heaping crate of tomatoes then drove over and helped pick a big bunch of sweet corn. Hooray! Today I will can sweet corn until dark and after!

I traded this carload of sweet corn for a heaping crate of tomatoes. Both Jen and I will be canning today!

I’m so happy with all the tomatoes we have, most fat and very productive, despite the heat and drought. We ran out of one of our favorite cherry tomatoes, Brad’s Atomic Grape, bred by tomato guru Brad Gates. Not only does this tomato have wonderful flavor but it is hugely productive and oh so pretty, with so many colors on each tomato. It’s really cool! The kids love it.

These are our wonderful Brad’s Atomic Grape tomatoes. They are NOT grape sized!

Will got the grain box with the broken axle home yesterday by chaining the front of the frame up to the three point on the Farmall 660. Whew! Today he’s hauling big round bales of hay home from the field as we have more rain in the near future so he can’t cut more hay. He’s also waiting for a part for the haybine, which broke so there’s nothing he can do till that arrives. Here’s hoping it comes today. — Jackie


  1. You all seem to have so much experience about canning; it’s great reading it to help me do better. Do you have experience about freeze-drying? Wouldn’t it be so ideal for preserving? Of course, at a high price. Does anyone know if it’s more suited for one thing or another? I’m thinking of earning enough to purchase a large one. I don’t like how long it takes to freeze-dry. Maybe there’s some place for it in homesteading. Is it good for solar power energy use? Thanks.

    • No. I don’t have a freeze dryer. I just can’t afford one. They do a good job and really don’t require lots of electricity and should work on most medium sized solar arrays. They dry a very wide assortment of foods well.

  2. Yesterday as I was driving home through the Columbia River Gorge, I noticed heavy black smoke drifting towards the Washington side. Another forest fire, today there is a heavy smoke advisory for my area near Sandy Oregon. We are hopefully going to get some light rain soon, so fingers crossed šŸ¤ž. Glad to hear your drought is over, hopefully ours will be soon, its been devastating here because this type of weather is extremely rare in the PNW.

  3. Hey Jackie, our sweet corn from the Amish is still coming in. It rains pretty often here in southern middle TN and I wish I were near so I could share. On a different note, I know you and Will burn wood. But, I was wondering if you, or anyone out there, has tried the Presto Electric canner? It has been out a few years and I’m thinking I can have two canners going at once since my gas stove is not very big in our little house. But I wanted to put out some feelers and see what all your folks think.

    • I have the Carey/Nesco brand electric canner and LOVE IT!! I used it so much when I first got it that I burned up the control panel and had to get a warranty replacement. The unit still works and I will use it for pressure cooking meals or whatever but I don’t trust it for pressure canning since I can’t depend on it building up the correct pressure long enough to put it to airtight. I didn’t think I would use it as much as I do but I’m now canning all meat & veggies out of my several small chest freezers. We are in hurricane alley down near the Gulf of Mexico and have already had a brush with Hurricane Ida this year, With the meat/veggies canned, I won’t have to worry so much if we lose power for several days/weeks & trying to keep the freezers cold/frozen. I’m thinking about getting a 2nd Carey/Nesco electric canner as it had great reviews and had been tested by several people (YouTube vid’s) so I felt confident to purchase this particular model. I’ve not heard any reviews on the Presto Electric Canner but also heard the InstaPot Max has a canning selection that a couple of people have tried and it seems to work well. Just make sure that the Presto is an ELECTRIC “PRESSURE” CANNER and not just a water bath canner, as some of them are. You really have to pay attention to the description to make sure you are getting an Electric PRESSURE Canner. Also see if you are limited to using only wide mouth jars. The Carey/Nesco model requires the use of wide mouth jars only. I know they are a tad shorter than a regular mouth jar and if you try to use regular mouth, it doesn’t seal well & steam escapes around the gasket/rim. I can use 6 regular mouth pints instead of 5 wide mouth with no problem. It is the quart jars that give me leaks unless I just use 3 regular mouth quarts and a pint. Hope this helps you. I’m 65 yrs old with bad arthritis in my hands, shoulders, & back so lifting the regular stove top canner had become a problem for me. Love this canner because after you let the pressure build and go thru the exhaust stage & you put the weight on AIRTIGHT (usually about 20-30 min) you are done and can go about your business & it will finish canning with the time you set and even turn it off when done. EASY PEASY & no baby sitting!

      • Thanks Bonnie! I am 72 and have the same problem with lifting; although I still can, I am sure it won’t be long before I can’t. I never canned meat and just hated the idea of babysitting for that long period. Plus, I want to do two canners at a time. One electric and one on my gas stove. I have canning marathons these days with everything coming in at the same time, it seems. This Presto is a pressure canner and does pints or quarts and did not specify wide mouth or regular. But it says it is not tall enough to water bath quarts if you want to use it as a water bath canner; but you can use it to water bath pints. I downloaded the entire set of instructions, warnings, etc. So since it had been out a few years I want to try it. Thanks so much for giving me your opinion.

        • Pressure canning meat is much easier than I ever imagined, especially with the Electric Pressure Canner. I recently came across some fantastic prices on chicken leg quarters (.39cents lb) and whole Boston Butts-.99cents lb) so I bought 60 lbs of leg quarters ($23.40) & 40lbs of Boston Butt (approx $40). I canned the leg quarters, bone-in, removed the skin & excess fat-raw pack. I just added some salt…nothing else. It makes it’s own juice & I could get two leg quarters-cut apart in a quart jar but had too much extra space so had some pint & a half jars and they were the perfect size & were wide mouth. I had the butcher cut the Boston Butts into steaks so cutting a lot of the fat off was much easier. I was lucky in that there was just 4 pieces with bone that I canned in a seperate jar as BONE-IN and filled in the empty spots with chunks of the Boston Butt meat. I canned most of the Boston Butt meat (minus most of the fat) in wide mouth pints using the raw pack method & just added some salt, garlic powder & pepper. It made its own juice/broth and smelled HEAVENLY while processing. I tried an experiment canning some of the meat/fat to use for seasoning beans or whatever and they all sealed. I didn’t fill the jars completely full & left over an inch headspace (so it wouldn’t seep out fat during the processing & cause the jars not to seal). So far, almost 2 weeks later, those 5 pint jars are still sealed, the fat has turned back to a solid so FINGERS CROSSED it worked. I have never heard of anyone pressure canning any kind of fat to use for seasoning so if anyone has any NEGATIVE CONCERNS, please advise. I have rendered down pig fat for lard but those jars sealed themselves so there was no canning involved, just putting the very hot melted fat into canning jars that sealed once it cooled. I probably could have done the same thing with the Boston Butt fat but decided I would TRY canning it, which melted it all down (except the meat chunks) and they all sealed. I’m preparing for hard times coming and skyrocketing meat prices so trying to save everything possible by canning. I also garden and have dehydrated TONS of veggies as well as made cases of veggie soup, some with meat, some not. I finally found canning jars locally so stocked up and have been canning like a mad woman with no end in sight. Right now I’m canning dog food. I deer hunt and save the organ meat and the not so choice pieces of meat/trimmings & cut it up into chunks & raw pack. My precious fur baby has to eat, too. Any ground meat I can, I usually precook then add some broth for a liquid. I did another experiment and canned fish & shrimp. Got a good bargain on some shrimp & found a YouTube vid on how to do it and it worked perfectly as did the fish. I even canned some hot dogs I had in the freezer when I canned the shrimp (processing time on the shrimp was just 45 min) so I assumed that was all the time the hot dogs would need, since they are already a pre-processed food. They look just like a cooked hot dog in a jar! I have pressure canned everything I can get my hands on that you can’t water bath can or dehydrate. I live in a very small cabin so my space is very limited to having so many canning jars. Dehydrating save so much space especially when you vacuum seal, too. My new decor for the cabin is BALL CANNING JARS!! LOL! You will get addicted to the ease of the electric pressure canner. I have something going almost around the clock in mine. Because it shuts itself off when done & it also has to go thru the one hour cool off time when finished, I can put on a batch when I go to bed and wake up the next morning and it be done and waiting on me to unload and RELOAD! I can water bath pints in my electric pressure canner, too, but I find it just as easy to use my old stand by granite ware water bath canner cause when I’m making jams, jellies, relishes, etc., it is going 24/7, too! Just as my dehydrators…they run non-stop, as well. I have 7 BIG square ones with temp control, timer & fans. Try dehydrating kale, turnip greens, radish greens. EASY PEASY and you can just throw a handful of those beautiful dried greens in a pot of soup or I have put some in a batch of chicken & dumplings to add some extra flavor & color and they are DELISH!!!! Love my homestead life…just wished I didn’t have more years BEHIND me than I do in front of me so I could enjoy it longer!

      • I can with regular mouth quarts, but I use the flat steaming rack turned rim side down. This still lets the water circulate properly during the canning process. Using this as the rack let’s the jars sit lower in the pot, which alleviates the lid not closing properly or interface with the seal. In the 6 plus years I have been using my Carey I have only had 3 jars not seal properly.

        • Thank you, Lois, for that tidbit of info!! I have spent a fortune on wide-mouth canning jars that I didn’t need to do, after all. I often wondered why they didn’t make the unit just a tad taller to accommodate a regular mouth quart canning jar with the canning rack. With the canning jar/lid/rings shortages, it has been almost impossible to find regular mouth jars much less wide mouth. My method worked but I couldn’t use but 3 regular mouth quarts and one pint jar so I could move the quart jars inward enough to put them in the taller area of the domed lid so it would seal properly to pressurize. Your method allows me to can 4 quarts which saves me from having to refigure my jars needed or to can something in a pint that I didn’t really want to do. I have found that if you use the Carey repeatedly for canning, as I do often, the control panel kind of goes whacky with it’s normal routine displays. Example: It will not go thru the complete E10 countdown and will start the rotating lines from either E7-E4. If I let it sit & completely cool down (like overnight) it will work properly. I assume the electric canner is not meant to be used as often as I do from what I gathered when I spoke with Carey/Nesco Customer Service about this problem with the control panel malfunction. I had kept meticulous notes of the control panel display malfunctions on 21 batches I processed…almost all had identical control panel issues if I didn’t let the unit “REST” a bit. They finally concluded after consulting several others in Customer Service that my control panel was going out so they gladly sent me a new one as it was still under warranty. I LOVE my Carey and so glad I purchased it to be able to continue pressure canning without having to babysit it like you do the stovetop models. Electronic’s do go bad, but at my age, I don’t expect to be doing canning marathons after I finish my 3 freezers of meat. Down to the last one, now, so I can soon let “CAREY” rest…until deer hunting season starts! LOL!! Sorry for the lengthy reply and again, THANK YOU for that valuable tip to use regular mouth quarts!

      • Bonnie, if you use the flat plate, rim side down, you can use regular mouth quarts without any problem in your Carey. I have done this for years and never had any problems when using them. That plate allows the jars to sit lower in the canner.

  4. This is crazy. Finally have green grass growing like crazy when we can expect our first frost any second now. But I wont complain. At least I donā€™t have sinuses full of dust from mowing for a change


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