Yep, Saturday morning, our dependable weather station thermometer registered -39! We’d been expecting cold temperatures, so we were prepared for it but holy cow, did the log house creak and snap as it got colder and colder. We had both the kitchen wood range fired up and the wood stove in the living room. (These provide our total heating for the entire house.) The critters outside were tucked in with extra bedding and plenty of hay so I didn’t even go out until eleven o’clock, when it “warmed up” to -13° F. I started our car and finished chores in record time, you bet.

Yesterday was warmer. It only was -16 for a low. I made good use out of those cold days by canning up ham and baked beans from Christmas ham. On Saturday, I canned up 18 half-pints of ham dices and ham slices. Then, yesterday, I did 28 pints of baked beans and ham, using not only the broth from the left-over ham shank, but also bits and pieces of lean meat from it to add to the beans. I also added tomato sauce, chopped onions, and a little brown sugar. Mmmmm, Campbell’s eat your heart out!

Isn’t this jar of canned ham dices beautiful?
This is part of the baked beans I canned yesterday.

Will started the car and let it run yesterday but his “new” big one-ton diesel truck wouldn’t go, even with a jump. As he didn’t have a clue how old the two batteries were, we drove to Virginia (the town) and picked up two new ones. Boy, the supply chain foul-up sure showed as there were few batteries available. Today, as it is warmer (-3), and the sun is shining, Will installed the batteries and started the truck with no trouble. We do like to make sure we can get going if we need to.

After buying two new batteries, Will’s diesel, Big Red, fired up nicely.

When I get off the computer, I’m making the last run at that ham shank, which I added fresh water to last night and simmered until the kitchen range ran out of wood last night. I soaked some beans and today I’m making Will’s favorite bean soup to can. It has beans, bits of ham (I pick out the tiny pieces even.), onions, grated carrots, onions, salt, and pepper. Light on the salt; heavy on the pepper! I’m sure I’ll get at least eight pints of soup before the ham shank is toast. Not bad for one ham, eh?


  1. I’d love to stop by in the spring and see your homestead and gardens. We just moved to Cook in Field Township. I’m excited to get seeds from you this year. Stay warm!

  2. Those beans look good, and the bean soup sounds delicious.
    I’ve always lived in the Gulf Coast region of Texas and the lowest I’ve seen here (I’m 65} is 6 degrees and that was last Feb. It was cold. However, we have a wood burning stove for heat and have always kept a large pile of wood on hand. We were prepared for the cold weather and snow. The one stove heated the whole house. There were rolling blackouts also which was better than no electricity and kept our well going. We finished the week of cold smelling like a rose compared to others who had no heat and broken water pipes.

    My house is all electric, so we have a 1929 enamel cast iron propane cooking stove and oven we bought back in the late 90s at an auction. I do my canning on it and cooking if no electricity. The stove sits in my utility room (my 2nd kitchen) where I have a sink, cabinets, pantry, an old electric oven and my washer and dryer. I always keep a stocked pantry just in case.

  3. Yes, it used to be colder, on average here in Minnesota, than it is now. Forty years ago, we always saw temperatures of -55 or even -65 F so your grandma wasn’t lying!! And the snow was always deeper too; even a four-wheel drive tractor couldn’t drive in the fields. Now a two wheeled tractor can navigate nearly every winter in the fields.

  4. OH BOY that’s COLD! I am so glad you, Will, and the animals are all well. That canning looks sooo delicious! I am going to rifle through the recipe book I have that you wrote and see if any of those recipes are in the book. I have ham leftovers I froze but really need to can up.
    I would really, really like to know why my home canned beans always turn out like mush. I sure would like them to stay a little firmer similar to store bought canned beans.
    Do you have any tips for me?

    • Yep, don’t pre-cook the beans. Either soak them overnight or in the morning, put them with plenty of water on the stove and boil for 2 minutes, then cover and let set for 5 hours or so. Drain and put together your recipe, NOT cooked. My beans are always nice formed, yet tender. Check out the recipes in Growing and Canning and you’ll find lots of tips and recipes.

  5. Cold, colder and brrr for you, Jackie! It’s been colder than the farmers like it here in the central valley of California. Freeze warnings and flooding so far this winter. We’re glad for the rain and the mountain snow though. Maybe it’ll ease this state out of a drought. The beans look delicious, will you share a recipe for it?

    • We were glad to see all that snow in the mountains of California and other western states. Although we are getting snow, which should help out our drought, we really do need much more, even though it’s inconvenient. That batch really didn’t have a recipe; more of toss in this and that. But it’s about this:

      5 pounds navy beans, soaked, drained
      2 quarts ham broth
      1 quart tomato sauce
      1 C brown sugar
      Ham dices and pieces
      2 onions, chopped
      1 clove of garlic, chopped finely
      salt to taste
      2 tsp black pepper
      Mix all together, then I put in the oven to heat thoroughly. Pack hot into clean pint jars ( I make sure there’s no more than about 1/2 a jar of beans) and process at 10 pounds for 75 minutes. I live at 1,400 feet in elevation so I process at 11 pounds.

  6. Those beans look delicious! What variety of bean did you use? We have had some cold weather here in north Missouri. Tomorrow is to be 8 above with winds gusting to 30 mph. Not expecting to enjoy that, lol. Stay warm

    • I used some old navy beans I had in long-term storage but any nice bean will work. Luckily, we know that spring will come. Eventually.

  7. After reading everyone’s story of how cold it is up north, I will stop complaining about the freeway being closed yesterday due to blowing snow covering the road. Last week it was icy & snowy, down to single digits Sat night. Now it will be upper 40s for the next 2 weeks. So far I haven’t seen flood warnings but anticipate it will be coming. My section of the Sierra’s had record breaking snow in December.

  8. Your canned beans look delicious!! The bean soup sounds like it would be delicious too. Your weather makes me very grateful for our weather right now . I hope you guys stay nice and warm and toasty indoors .

    • It’s so fun to get so much good food from one single ham, and a half ham, to boot!! Yep, we’re stuffing wood in the stove and staying very comfortable.

  9. We had -38 this morning and a friend who lives a couple miles away had a picture of her thermometer at -50 on Facebook this morning! It’s up to -36 now at noon and is supposed to stay cold for the next couple days! We are in the Copper Basin, Alaska for those who wonder, latitude 61.73 North. Keep warm!

    • Years ago, when we lived down at Sturgeon Lake, Mn, I took a picture of the thermometer in our attached greenhouse, reading 55 degrees and the outside reading was -55. Now that was sure funny. And cold!!

  10. Jackie, I wonder if you would consider doing a zoom meeting when you are next pressure cooking, so us newbies can follow along with you? I have an All-American, for over 5 years now, but am too intimidated to use it without some help. Please?!

    • Gee, I’d love to. But because we live off grid and only have satellite, I can’t even do Skype and my phone is old too. Why don’t you email me and I’ll give you my phone number so I can walk you through canning as you go. It’ll work; I’ve done it with others. It really is so very easy and safe! That’s

  11. No Global Warming here in NW Wisconsin😂😂😂 I admire your canning skills! I’m to lazy so I rely on my freezer or garage bins this time of year.

    • I used to rely on my freezer, which was only 2 years old. Until it quit on us and resulted in lots of spoiled food while I canned like mad, trying to save as much as I could. Keep warm!!

  12. We sold our cabin in northern Idaho a few years back and I have “sellers remorse” whenever I hear the crackling fire of a wood burning stove. Got down below zero for a few days here in eastern WA and a warmer snow is falling and blanketing everything now. It is hard to stay outside when it gets below zero unless one layers up so much its hard to move! But I love the silence of snowfall and how everything is monochromatic and calming. And who doesn’t sleep like a baby in the dead of winter?? Like hibernation!

    • Hey D–we lived in Grand Coulee for almost 7 years! Loved it but winter could be a trial, we learned that our first year when we needed snow boots, lol. We finally got a four wheel drive ‘Burb that got us out when the snow got deep.

    • Hey, when it warms up to zero, we run outside in T shirts! Really. No, we don’t stay out long. I love the quietness of snowfall and when it’s really cold, the stars sparkle so much brighter.

  13. Wow that’s cold! We’ve seen only -1 yesterday morning here in lower Michigan. Glad that you’re all tucked in nice and warm with those wood stoves. The canning looks beautiful.

    • Yeah, I remember that when I was a kid in the suburbs of Detroit, we’d go up north to the cabin when it was zero, thinking it was so cool (no pun intended).

  14. DH and I spent the coldest winter on record (at the time) in North Dakota. Try loading up two small (one toddler and one baby) to go wash clothes at the laundromat.

    • Oh yeah; been there, done that!! Our water lines froze and I had a baby, and two small children. Not fun, eh? But we survived and the kids are all happy, now they’re grownups.

  15. That soup sounds pretty tasty! And good job canning all that up, I will have to take a leaf from your book.. I keep wanting to get canning and only finally recently brought a pressure canner. Just not sure where to start! I’ll have to just pick something, probably.

    We’re over to the east from you, in far north MI and got -15 or so, but I think Superior must have taken the edge off whatever it was you had as it made it to us. -39 is Alaska-grade temps! Speaking of (we moved from AK this summer and family is still there) they have insane winds, like 100mph+ and -25, the poor people. Crazy weather all around, huh?

    • Pick something you really like. Pressure canning is really so safe and easy! Once you start, you’ll wonder what took you so long.
      The weather IS crazy all over the country! I’m not complaining about ours, for sure. We just deal with it as it comes.

  16. We are off-grid here in far north California. We have an electric furnace (mandated by the building code department) but never, ever use it. We insist on our woodstove heat. It’s fun and good for us to get out and chainsaw for firewood, use the skidloader and get it moved and stacked on our deck. The beautiful outdoors is so worth the effort. We are usually in the 40s all winter, but this winter have seen weeks of 30s, and it’s been good for us. I would like to live in 4 season country, though. My garden got frost a few days ago, for the first time in years. So living here isn’t a challenge really. I like hearing your stories, Jackie, and those of your readers. Today I have chicken bone broth making, need to make chicken soup, and mushroom soup, and get it canned-up. Love your blog, Jackie!!!

    • Thanks Elizabeth. My, I can’t imagine having frost for the first time in years! My poor head can’t wrap around that. I, too, love our wood heat. Everything about it, from chainsawing to splitting to stuffing it in the stove. (Well, maybe not the dust that settles over things when you clean it out…)

  17. I guess we are living in the sun belt as we have only hit 15 below but in the 20’s below is forcast
    We also put up ham and bean soup with ham left over from Christmas, did anyone have Turkey !!!
    I am thinking this supply chain problem might be something for everyone to be paying attention to

    • I sure hope they do, Reg. From the severe weather all over the country, from droughts to floods, preventing crops from being harvested or even grown to the supply chain problem, I know I wouldn’t want my food dependent upon the grocery store.

  18. I don’t have a wood stove but I do have a wood fireplace. In MS, we don’t get quite as cold usually.

    But I have a stove with an oven and most of the time in the winter, I cook meals in the oven. Cooks and adds heat to the house.

    My sister that lives in Texas thinks I am a little off plumb because I don’t get panicked when it gets very cold. First thing my husband did when we moved here (No. MS) was insulated all exposed pipes, well, etc.

    kathy in MS

    • Wise move on your part to insulate those pipes. These days you never know when temps will go below freezing and for how long. That is one reason we run the furnace each day despite our pipes being insulated. Better safe than sorry.

    • Tell your husband “Good job!”. Like Selena says, it’s better to be safe than sorry. I’ve dealt with broken water pipes (Dad taught me to solder copper pipes over the phone one winter!). We try to be prepared for everything and sometimes something comes up that surprises you. But hardly often.

  19. We had -27 and the wind chill was -60. It was cold that January. I worked nights and while my car did start, the seat was hard as a rock. Our rental house was not well insulated, thank goodness for a kerosene heater and electric blanket.
    Not just log cabins that creak. Last night our house creaked so loud it woke me up (I am a heavy sleeper).
    Agree wood heat is great. We don’t burn all day but once the stove is going, the furnace gets a well deserved break.
    Awesome amount of food from your ham. One really doesn’t need a huge amount of meat at each meal. Balancing it out or using as enhancement works out just fine.
    Established cat’s nose is still out of joint after this morning’s kerfuffle. I told her the newbie isn’t going anywhere and we’ll work on his social skills.

    • We often use meat as a flavoring, rather than the main deal; it goes further and is healthier too. While you’re heating with wood, think of all the money you’re saving in fuel for the furnace. And repairs for said furnace; it’ll last longer.

  20. coldest I’ve seen was 39 below with a 55 below wind chill. That was back when I was living in a poorly insulated camper and only had a wood stove the size of 4 shoe boxes put together and also had to use an outhouse. I’m glad I’m in a warm house now, and would you believe, my favorite thing in the whole world comfort wise is a hot bath. It almost can’t be too warm. If I remember right, my grandma said she’s seen the thermometer at 70 below. Up here in northern Wisconsin that would be really cold, though I think it used to be colder than it is now. There is also nothing like wood heat. 💕


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