Yep, we sure know winter’s knocking at our doors so, after a period of cold, we are happy with this last week of nicely warm weather — even hitting into the mid 60’s. Will is splitting his time between getting more firewood cut, split, and stacked in our alternative wood storage spots, as the woodshed is packed full (there’s still room in the two old pig houses and a little under the eaves of the storage barn, on the rack he built there) and pouring cement into the footing forms in the barn. He had previously built a half-wall out of stone and concrete on the aisle side of the pens on the east side of the barn and had wanted to get the wall on the west side pens done too. But, with so much else that must be done now, he just didn’t get to it before. So, before winter socks in, he was determined to get at least the footing poured so he could start working on the half wall, bit by bit, as he has time.

Will, working on the barn wall footing.
The firewood is stacking up; we like to keep 2 years’ worth … just in case.

Unfortunately, when he was coming back from Menards with a load of Portland cement and rebar, in his beloved big red Dodge pickup, he heard an intense vibration, then a big BANG! And, looking in the rearview mirror, he saw pieces of his transfer case rolling about on the highway, then his front driveshaft, plus a big smear of transmission fluid, coating the road. When he called me, I thought he’d had an accident or hit a deer, by his voice. I was relieved somewhat, when he told me “Clifford” his big red truck, had died and he needed a tow and ride home. End of story, it was towed to Hibbing Chrysler, where they quoted nearly $8,000 to fix it! But Will talked to them and went online and found parts much cheaper than original Chrysler parts so the bill should be about half of that. Still, a lot of money for us to come up with though! Ouch!

I’ve been madly seeding out melons and squash, which are going bad as they just don’t keep. One of our favorite summer squashes is a patty-pan type squash called Pattison Strie Melange. These cute squash start out very tasty, just after the flower drops off and a bit later. But then, when they get mature, they get all bumpy, striped, and gorgeous, with a pretty hard skin. They are so much prettier than most fall gourds! We put a few out with our pumpkins for decoration by the front walkway.

Aren’t these Pattison Strie Melange squash beautiful?

Yesterday, we got our Omicron COVID boosters and flu shots. I just have a bit of a sore arm if I touch it. Will had a reaction so isn’t working hard today. (As a reaction usually means the vaccine is working, I wish I had one too, but am glad I’m not feeling sick today!)

David’s been working madly on his cabin every weekend, trying to get it warmer by putting in more insulation and getting the propane line run into the house from the bulk tank in the back yard. Will dug a ditch behind the house with my little Kubota so the line can be buried safely deep. David bought enough flexible gas line to get to the house and even way over to the first heater, located downstairs. Hopefully, this weekend, he’ll be able to plumb it in, with Will’s help, so when the weather turns cold, as it will pretty soon, he has heat in the house so he can work comfortably. But then, hunting season starts on Saturday, so, hopefully, he can both hunt in the mornings and evenings, and work in-between times. — Jackie


  1. Hey, I read in the Grand Forks Herald that a cougar was spotted on a trail cam near Orr. Yikes! Terrifying! Watch your pets.

      • We see them here, too. They say they move from the Black Hills to Boundary Waters, usually young males looking for ‘ romance and companionship” ? to me, they are bit less terrifying then a lion or tiger!

  2. Glad you got lots of wood. I wish our fireplace was wood but we got too old to cut and haul it. So we opted for a propane tank. I am getting nervous about all the diesel, oil, kerosene prices.
    So in a way the extra warm days are helping out to save wood or money. In the meantime, don’t forget to enjoy all the beautiful tree colors. It is just heavenly in the woods these days. Enjoy each day for what it is! But watch for those slippery damp leaves when you walk, LOL

    • Our beautiful fall colors are all done. Boo hoo. But you can bet we’re enjoying the warm spell, especially when we know what’s right around the corner. Every nice day is a blessing!

  3. Hi Jackie,
    Sorry haven’t been here for awhile. Been sick again and trying to catch up with myself but all is good now. Thankful wasn’t covid just nasty virus and cold.
    It’s good you and Will are getting all you can done while it’s unusually warm there.
    It’s been unusually warm here as well and will be for a few more days.
    I know winter isn’t far away so we have to appreciate this reprieve.
    I’m thankful Will can get parts to fix the truck in long run cheaper than paying someone to fix it but still not an expense you planned on having.
    Glad to hear David is getting his cabin ready to be warm for the winter with Will’s help too.
    I’m glad your getting all those seeds out of the melons and squash.
    I’ve still got quite a few zucchini and squash to get seeds from yet but will get it done soon.
    Have the best day and may all go well with you and Will.

    • Thanks Cindy. I’m glad you’re back in the saddle again! Being sick is no fun, especially when there’s lots to do before winter.

    • I think I had the same thing as you – worse cold I’ve ever had in my life. Took a full two weeks to be officially over it. During that time, I just stayed home and managed to be careful enough to not pass it on to my spouse.

  4. I am trying to find your instructions for canning pecans. I have your Starting Over book, Self-Reliance book and Growing and Canning Your Own Food plus the 3 years of Backwoods Home magazine. I know I have read it somewhere but cannot find it. Please repeat. I know it’s not difficult but don’t know the particulars. Pecans are coming in here and I am trying to eliminate so much going into the freezer. Thank you.

    • Well, scratch that request. I found the instructions in your growing and canning cookbook. I knew I had read it-just in too much of a hurry and missed it the first look. ?

      • Glad you found it on page 70 of Growing and Canning. You’re so lucky to have pecans to can!!

      • I’ve tried her recipe with great results: pecans, walnuts, in the shell pistachios, and now peanuts. I’ve got more to do that I just stored in a bin with a lid, but know that in the large amounts that I’ve stored we won’t get to them in their sacks to use up before are rancid. So have to get to it! Her books are so, so, so helpful!

        • Agree! Jackie is the “one” I follow religiously for canning advice. I trust her knowledge. Her books are what gave me a shove to can meat.

  5. Nice weather here too – seems like our weather is month later than it used to be. Waiting for winter to hit however – we too have plenty of firewood at the ready. Since it has been warm, haven’t lightly covered the garlic with straw just yet.
    Vehicle repairs are not inexpensive but truck prices have skyrocketed (new and used). Finding a work truck (regular cab, 8 foot bed) was a challenge seven years ago, I can just imagine how it is these days. What you’ll pay to repair is likely far less than one year of the average vehicle payment these days. Always tough to part with the money however.

    • That’s for sure. But repairs will ensure Will’s beloved “Clifford” will be up and at ’em again soon. Truck prices have skyrocketed!! That’s just crazy. We’ll never buy a new one, that’s for sure.

  6. I love the feeling of security that firewood picture represents. And knowing there’s plenty more tucked around is purely wonderful, just like seeing a pantry bursting with foods!

    Any update on your friend Tom? And are you getting along alright with your knees and health? I’m guessing you’ll have replacement surgery this winter, any date set yet? It seems there are shortages of nursing personnel, and various areas like physical therapists, so I hope you will have all the medical support needed post-op.

    We also have extended warm weather and are getting many tasks done; it is such a good feeling to cross items off the To Do List! I planted the wild plum seeds today.

    • I love looking at our firewood too. Will and I have both been poor and having to dig through the snow to find enough wood to last overnight. So, remembering that, we will never face that trial again. It’s like being hungry. Makes you keep that pantry full.
      Tom is scheduled for heart surgery next week. I’ll be taking him back to Mayo, as his driver. The good news is that it’s a relatively in and out thing, repairing what used to take a heart transplant!
      The knees are so-so but I’m still able to get doing. I hope your plums grow into a grove for you!

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