Our 12-volt water pump, which gives us water pressure from our two storage tanks in the basement, to our outlets like the sinks, toilet, and washing machine, was getting worn out. Will decided to replace it with a new 12-volt pump with higher psi. We both enjoy a pounding shower, not just a “raining on you” shower. Then he found out our pressure tank’s bladder had ruptured, which made the pump kick on every time we turned on the water. Okay, then he ordered a 120-volt pump. That would give us a good shower. While waiting for it to come, he bought and installed a new pressure tank. And an in-line pressure switch. The pump came quickly, but it was broken! He called and they sent another. It came in two days (a miracle!). He installed that. But it was a pump that let the water flow back into the line when not in use. No water coming to the faucets. He figures he has to install a check valve so as to not let that happen. But that means a 30-mile one way trip to town! So, he unhooked the 120-volt pump and hooked up the 12-volt pump again. That meant dozens of trips up and down our basement stairs. Poor Will is not only frustrated but his legs are killing him. Today, he’s out cutting firewood.

Meanwhile, I’m seeding out tomatoes like mad. The whole kitchen table is full of containers of fermenting tomato seeds. And the Provider beans are approaching over-maturity, where they get tough. I’d given away all I could to folks, then, yesterday, as an answer to prayer, our friend, Heather, came. I can pick some beans, but we’re talking about 25 feet of row, here! She picked while we visited, to save my poor knees, then we split them, so she got half, and I got half. Today, I’m canning beans like crazy. I’ve got 12 pints in the canner now and another 12+, cut and waiting to be canned. I was right, some were too tough — the cows will love them.

Tomatoes are EVERYWHERE! These are beautiful (and tasty!) Fireworks.

We are so happy with the morning glories I planted on a new trellis in the Main Garden. They’re Grandpa Ott’s. And they flower much earlier than do the blue Heavenly Blue variety. They are just covering the trellis and reaching for the sky!

Aren’t Grandpa Ott’s morning glories pretty?

Today, I was walking by the bathtub that sits under the eaves of the goat barn as sort of a rain barrel. In it, were dozens of fat tadpoles. I’ve been watching them and yesterday, I saw one with legs, sitting on the side of the tub! Then, I looked closer, to see many with legs, floating on top of the water, learning to use their newly developed lungs. I’m amazed at them being able to go from using gills, to lungs, in only a couple of days. Soon, they’ll be losing their tails and hopping away in the grass.

Here are our tadpoles becoming frogs. (Sorry for not so good a photo, but if I got closer, they’d dive down deep.)

— Jackie


  1. wow Jackie! I thought i was busy. nope ya got me beat. well done(77 I cant believe this to be true!) senior homesteaders, we just have to accept our bodies don’t function like we want. but where there’s a will(no pun intended) there’s a way. ! am curious of your seed saving: I understood that to be good seed, one must wait till overripe, then save the seed. are you successful with seeds as mature, not over ripe? thanks for all your helpful information. yep, I v got your books. not a day goes by that I’m not referencing one of for answers. keep up the good life-but with care!) mary

    • Seeds are viable when taken from totally ripe fruit. We do let our squash and pumpkins cure for a month or longer before we either eat or take seeds from them to ensure the seeds are totally mature and the fruit is sweeter than if eaten directly off the vine. Our germination rate is over 95%.

  2. We’re always planting plants for the wildlife. I have a bunch of last year’s wild plum pits which I’m going to plant here and there on the edges of our pastures. Deer, bear, raccoons, foxes and some birds love them. We race them for our supply every year but also make sure they have their share too. There are lots of pollinator-friendly flowers around our 6 gardens and the deer enjoy helping the horses and cows eat the clover/grass pastures. We all need to share!

    I’m still waiting for my young black walnut to have nuts. I planted one nut 10 years ago and it’s now a 12′ high tree. Even though they are supposed to be a Zone 4 tree, ours is doing very well.

    • I’m zone 5 and we do not lack for walnut trees in the area. And after doing some reading, I can ensure you the trees do not always need deep fertile soil either.

      • When I said black walnuts are a Zone 4 tree, I meant they will grow in Zones 4, upward, not only in Zone 5. Oops.

    • Hey, Jackie; Everyone marvels at how you and Will, as older folks, still homestead. Could you write a book about that? How older folks can handle homesteading? My husband and I are in our late sixties and want a homestead, but see it as so extremely labor intensive. I just don’t know how we’d mend fences, handle bales, get on the ground to make repairs under a tractor, and garden large amounts. I think in the near future, there aren’t going to be the fast food restaurants, and store bought food. I think people will be growing their own. You’ve got a good start. Thanks.

      • That’s a good idea, writing a book for senior gardeners. However, I’m thinking it might not sell to well, thus not interesting a publisher. My book, Homesteading Simplified, gives lots of tips on making homesteading easier for everyone, including we seniors.
        Anyone can begin homesteading at older ages. How much labor-intensive it is, is a choice. Probably beginner, older homesteaders would want to skip cows but could certainly handle a goat for dairy purposes. A tractor isn’t even necessary, nor is extensive fencing. A well thought out garden doesn’t have to be huge to be productive.
        I’m 77 and Will is 67 and not only are we homesteading but also running a seed business. Yep, we get tired, but feel it keeps us healthy, both in the foods we grow and eat and the “forced” exercise we do daily. We love the life.

  3. Amen, April!! Anything is better than renting. It’s like pouring money down a rat hole! For your whole life. I’d live in a tent first! (Been there;done that!)

  4. Next question. I noticed in your seed catalog page 2, on saving bean seeds that they will cross very easily. Do you mean Pole beans to pole beans and bush beans to bush beans (hopefully) or since our provider beans are about 8ft from the Pole beans be a problem also. Thanks

    • No, beans don’t cross very easily. Pole beans do cross more often than do bush beans. If you plant two varieties of pole beans on the same trellis, they could cross. Or if you plant two trellises close together, they may cross.
      Bush beans don’t usually cross unless the plants are so close the branches touch their neighbors. Pole beans don’t often cross with bush beans.

  5. On August 14 post I asked when do you know to pick the hopi grey squash. One is beginning to turn yellow. They are beautiful. Jackie’s answer was very interesting and informative I was thrilled. If you have not seen it, I encourage you to check it out.

    • Pole beans are very promiscuous but don’t usually cross with bush beans. 8 feet should be fine. Bush beans don’t often cross unless the plants are very close together.

  6. I love Grandpa Ott’s morning glories, but watch out! They drop hundreds (thousands?) of seeds like there’s no tomorrow and you’ll have morning glories everywhere next year. I could not believe how quickly two little plants turned into a jungle.

    • In northern Minnesota, self-seeding flowers are a blessing as very few actually make it through the winter to come up in the spring. My sister has some and they are very well behaved in her Duluth yard. For others in a less-icy climate (Zone 3), I can see where they could be a problem for some.

  7. Ahhh, yes, water and stairs, I can relate. Had a leak a couple weeks ago in the line from the (shallow, hand dug, 100+ year old) well to the house. Got that fixed but got some dirt in the line and pump jet getting plugged. Spent 1 full day up and down the steps to clear the jet multiple times, and still keeping an eye on it. Big hole in the front yard needs to be filled back in. Got a blockage somewhere that I haven’t figured out yet that is causing low pressure to the kitchen and outside faucet so this weekend I may try to drain that line and see what’s going on.

    Friends commiserate – “it’s always something when you own a house” – but I’ll take it over renting an apartment, listening to the neighbors on the other side of the wall, and drinking city water!

  8. We all should be doing whatever we can to assist wildlife. We’ll be hiring out a cleanup/restore of the land we purchased last year. Not gonna be cheap but in the end, beneficial wildflowers/grasses instead of invasive plants that will help the wildlife and bees. Still have some plans for 1.5 acres that will be cleaned up but not re-seeded. Of course beneficial trees won’t be touched. I’m kinda territorial about the walnut trees – I *might* be able to beat the wildlife and get enough to crack. You can’t beat black walnuts (which were always expensive at the store and I suspect are REALLY expensive these days).
    Tomorrow should be the last day of the heat dome. Stray showed up and ate well. We got a bit of rain tonight (20% chance actually happened).
    Thanking my lucky stars that despite now being over 60, knees and other joints don’t give me problems. But like my better half, years of physical work are reminder to Will every day. My better half avoids ladders like the plague and there are days when tasks requiring stairs are not on the “honey do list”.
    The occasional shower like a light rain is fine but more often than not, a bit more pressure is most welcome. We thought we needed a new well pump but replacing the pressure tank did the trick.

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