Where most folks went out partying, we just stayed home and enjoyed the fire in the wood stove. No, we sure didn’t stay up until midnight to watch the ball drop. Hey, we’re homesteaders, more concerned with plotting out our next year’s gardens and finishing canning up the ham and bean soup.

We both love our ham and bean soup, so I make sure we have plenty.

I’m getting ready for my next knee replacement surgery on the 9th. You know, preparedness includes more than what if the world — as we know it — comes to an end. For us, preparedness means getting as prepared as humanly possible for the foreseeable future. For us, that not only means having plenty of food stocked up, a way to get water, staying warm without electricity, having a medical supply in storage, but it also means getting the garden ready now (not waiting for spring to plan) and doing what is possible to be ready for the inevitable down-time after my surgery, when I can’t do much.

I am already plotting out our five gardens, figuring out how to get the most harvest out of each one.

So, I’ve been doing extra “meals-in-a-jar” canning (Will won’t have to cook, just heat stuff up.), printing out extra labels for the seed packages, and packing even more seeds for our seed business. I’ve done the laundry, cleaned up the house as much as I can while doing other things, going to haul the Christmas tree out early, and stocking up on things like animal grain, chicken feed, and dog and cat food. Hopefully this will lessen the burden on Will after I have my surgery and lessen my frustration and worry, as well.

I can’t wait until I’m back in the garden, checking out growing crops!

I hope all of you have a very Happy New Year. Make a resolution to grow more food and can it up! — Jackie


  1. Got my seed catalog. But not for long. My daughter in law and little 3 yr old grandaughter asked if they could look through it. We all love your co. Praying for your successful surgery. God bless you all

  2. God bless you two!! Got my intact catalog. Making a list.
    Praying that your surgery and recovery goes well and that Will STAYS well!!!
    You two are loved far and wide. Y’all inspire us all.

  3. I added you to my prayer list for safe surgery and good recovery. Many years ago, I had a client that had both knees replaced in one surgery. I saw him the day before surgery and thought that he’d probably not be back in the office before his case was resolved. Turns out he came in two weeks later without a walker or a cane. He did so well that he did not even need to go to therapy. That’s the kind of result I’ll pray you have.

    • My opinion – the medical world relies a bit too much one size fits all. No two people are alike. Height, weight, gender, genetics, ethnicity, activity all level play a part. While family history can be important, it can work against you (bias, unnecessary tests or “fishing” as I call it). Inaccurate medical notes can also haunt you – good luck trying to get them corrected.
      It makes perfect the fall on the ice Jackie took before knee #1 affected her recovery. So we’re all wishing her the best of surgery/recovery/rehab.

  4. If you have more ideas for meals-in-a-jar that weren’t included in your book, let us know. And how do you prepare for medical emergencies? I really enjoy reading your replies to questions in Backwoods Home magazine; 4 pages! Yes, the newest issue just came out. I sure appreciate your new seed catalog you sent to me automatically, and would like to have a full time homestead like yours. Regards from far north California.

    • Many of my meals-in-a-jars were included in the book. There isn’t enough room here to list more. If you go to your grocery store and walk down the aisles, you can make a list of their “meals-in-a-jar” and duplicate them, only better, yourself.
      To prepare for medical emergencies, first off, I was a veterinary technician for over 22 years so I can deal with many medical emergencies, from having to sew up a wound to more normal things like urinary infections or colds. We have a fully stocked medical bag plus a big drawer full of supplies and meds. Our prescriptions are always filled a few days early so we could stockpile them, using the oldest ones first so none get old. I also have several medical books from the Merck Manual to Joe Alton’s great book, plus the Red Cross book. We have been trained in CPR as well. (Many free classes are available locally.)

  5. Sending prayers from Texas for a smooth surgery and speedy recovery for you. Our catalog just arrived and I can’t wait to look through it and place our order! Take good care of yourself!

    • Thank you Gail. I’m getting set for the surgery and also hope it goes well. I’m hoping your catalog was entire, as we had a few that folks received missing pages and having doubles of others.

  6. Happy New Year Jackie. I was excited to get the seed catalog early this time around. I am hoping your knee surgery goes along as planned and your healing time is fast and short. We have some things going on here as well that make me concerned about the garden as well this year. But I keep hoping that I will be able to make things work. I want to build a different stand for my seed starts this year, but I haven’t decided how to do it yet. Hopefully I’ll get my order to you sooner than later here as I decide what to do.

    • I hope you had a Happy New Year Melissa and I sure hope your catalog was complete and not missing pages etc.
      It sounds like you’re already planning your growing season, as we are. We made a big effort to get our catalogs out earlier as we have a lot of southern gardeners who are already starting to plant their indoor seeds.

  7. I am in total agreement with your new year plans. I spent Christmas and New Years with my daughter in Washington. We made several batches of cookies, and I made sure the left over Prime Rib and Ham were safely canned for another meal. I feel it is important to take as many opportunities as I can to encourage my daughter to at least think about homesteading. They (her and her partner) really want to buy a house, but they are not willing to settle for something that might be below their standard. I realized when I bought my property with the trailer on it needed work but it was something I could afford. I have not regretted that decision. I have made improvements on the property, have learned new skills, and am perfectly happy where I am. Enjoy communicating with you, and wish you the best with your surgery.

    • It’s difficult when your kids don’t see the value of being more independent of commercial products. All we can do is keep encouraging them, mainly by example, and hoping and praying that they finally figure it out.
      I have to laugh at the “below their standard”. My first homestead had a house with the windows knocked out, a dead rat floating in the basement water and junk vehicles sitting all around the place, in the weeds. Yep, I made big improvements in the property too!

  8. Hi Jackie, I’ll be thinking of you next week when you have your second knee done. You were a couple of weeks ahead of me having my knee replaced. I see the surgeon in 2 weeks for the one year check up. Sad to say I have yet to have a pain free day or a day without pain medication. Stairs are still difficult, especially going down. I know you were having trouble with the stairs as well. I sure hope this surgery goes better for you than the first. Is this knee as bad as the first? Did you use an ice machine after your first surgery? That was the best parts of my day, laying on the bed with the ice machine on.lol. Take care. It sounds like you’ve got everything as prepared as you can for when you come home.

    • I’m sorry you are still having pain. I’m not taking pain meds, but it sure hurts! No, I didn’t use the ice machine on the first and I’m thinking that will make a big difference as the machine I bought has a timer and will keep ice frozen in bottles, with water circulating between them and my knee for hours and hours. (It’s a Polar Products machine, the size of a small plastic cooler.) I got mine today and just about jumped up and down!!
      Hopefully both of us will eventually become pain free.

  9. Happy new year. Glad you spent the day “your way “. I did , almost. I lost my husband December 21st, the kids all left the 27th and I spent New Year’s Day remembering our 56 new years celebrations together. It was okay/precious memories. Missing him terribly though.

    I will be remembering you on the 9th. I am trusting Jesus for a better outcome for you.

    Received my catalog today. Thank you.

    • I’m so sorry to hear about you losing your husband. I’ve also experienced that and know what a hole it leaves in your heart. I’ll pray for you to have more peace.
      I sure hope your catalog was okay. We had three folks email me and tell me that their catalog was missing pages. Of course, I replaced them, but it scared us to think of how many other people may also have received “broken” catalogs and not told us.

  10. You are on our prayer list Jackie.
    I hope you and Will both can take it easy on yourselves so your bodies can do some healing.

    • Thank you Toni. Will is feeling a little better today. So, I hope he’s on the mend. I’m kind of switching between praying for an easier surgery on Tuesday to holding my breath.

  11. Happy New Year!!! I also did not stay up to watch the ball drop. I got up early New Years day and went to a house cleaning job I have to earn extra cash. I figured I would start the new year out right by working, lol. Your ham and bean soup looks so good. I always end up putting too many beans in a jar and it gets thicker than I like. I love your meals in a jar idea. It will make things go smoother after surgery. Will wont have to cook and you can still have a hot, home cooked meal. I received my seed catalog today. I have glanced through it but plan to sit down and really study and order soon. I wish you a happy, healthy, productive New Year! Prayers for a blessed week and successful surgery.

    • Hi Marilyn. It sounds like you made good use of New Years Day. I’m hoping you aren’t the Marilyn who got a catalog with missing pages! Will and I kind of freaked out when three different customers let us know their catalog had missing and doubled pages. Thank you for your prayers!!

  12. I can relate to the planning of the garden….. I still have cold weather crops to get planted. And here it is time to start planting tender seeds NOW where I am at (TX). Our last average frost is mid March.

    Prayers for you with your knee surgery. Knee surgeries are tough (I mangled ligaments in ’96). My knees are now real bad.

    Got your catalog. Thank you so much! Need to find a few things to add into the garden.

    • I think one reason my right knee replacement still hurts is that before the surgery, a couple of months, I’d taken a nasty fall on the ice and twisted it badly. I’m thinking I damaged ligaments and probably muscles too. I’m hoping it just takes longer than “normal” to heal up.

      I hope your catalog is okay. We’ve had 3 people, so far, tell us they received catalogs with missing and doubled pages. These were all in Missouri and all were directly mailed from the printer.

  13. I will put you on my prayer list for your surgery recovery. That is the best medicine for sure. I loved your pics of bean soup. I recently canned my leftover Christmas ham. It turned out perfect. But I canned white beans with just a little of the ham and then 6 pints of just the cubed ham. I am thinking that it will be good in my canned veggie soup, too. I was wondering if you ever took just some canned ham and made a sandwich spread. I know you must have a recipe somewhere! I hate that you are having surgery but it seems we get a few more blogs when you are down. So I am looking forward to your updates!

    • Thank you! Prayer IS the best medicine!! Yes, I have made sandwich spread from my canned ham. I put the drained ham in the blender and add a little mayonnaise and dill pickle, give it a couple of pulses and ta da! Ham spread that’s better than store bought and doesn’t have any weird stuff added.
      I’ll post as often as I can following surgery.

  14. Jackie, Happy New Year to you and yours! I’ll put you on the prayer list for your surgery. I hope it goes well for you. I’ve need knee replacement a while as one knee buckles a odd intervals . So I sympathize with you. Hope it goes well. There are small ice machines on Amazon ( isn’t everything on Amazon 😋) my brother in law has one. It’s easy to use and produces ice quickly. You may want to get that for your surgery. Later don’t use it until summer hits. Extra ice in drinks is helpful for staying cool. I’m thrilled to get your wonderful catalog today. I found a recent Ball canning book and a large book called “Complete Book of Home Preserving Food” at a thrift store. I think with both of those books and your canning book I should be all set. I love shopping thrift stores and as my weight continues to drop I’ll use more clothes from there to or make mine. My arms are longer than most women my size, so I end up in tee-shirts most of the time. I want something nicer. Hugs.

    • Thanks for your prayers! The ice machine I got (Polar Products) is basically a small plastic cooler that holds 6 water bottles you freeze, then add water which circulates on a timer, all around your knee. It keeps ice for hours and hours. (My brother-in-law also has one and they recommended it to me.)
      I lover shopping at our local Thrift store. But, darned, it was closed today. I was going to pick up a bunch of books to read while I’m laid up. It sounds like you got some good buys!

  15. Best of luck on your surgery. Two friend recently had knee replacement, the ice machine was a life saver for their recovery. Insurance paid for the use of the machine. Love you.

    • The ice machine I have, I bought for just a little over $200, and I know it’s going to be a life-saver! And it’s so compact, has a timer and works very well. Hooray! Love you back!!

  16. I hope your surgery goes well as mine did. So nice to not hurt to walk. Will keep you in prayers for a good recovery.

    • Thank you for your prayers and encouragement! I’m looking forward to the day when it won’t hurt to walk or even lie in bed.

  17. Jackie and Will and Family,
    Love to see those canned meals. I’m going to thaw the left over ham and soak the navy beans and can some of my own up tomorrow. You both are an inspiration in so many ways. Not just all the work you do but the mind set when something goes wrong and you accept and adjust and keep trooping on. I admire those traits and our country needs more examples of all that instead of the “gimme” reaction that is so prevalent. I will pray for a success in your surgery and your quick recovery. I think of you both often up there so North of our farm and also say a prayer for your well being. Happy New Year.

    • Thank you so much for your prayers and kind words! I totally LOVE my meals-in-a-jar. They are so tasty and so very handy for quick, easy meals.
      Hey, everyone has bad times. And, if we spend more time figuring out fixes for them instead of wallowing in self-pity, they’ll end quicker, and you feel like you’ve accomplished something.
      I hope your New Year is wonderful!

      • Worse than the “gimmes” are those who blame others for what is basically their own poor choices/decisions.

  18. Praying your surgery goes well and you are back home giving orders soon!!! You are an awesome specimen Jackie!!! Like the energizer bunny!!!! Love your spark and all that you do!! Take care and I can’t wait for my seed catalog!!!!

    • Thanks for your prayers, Mia!! When it’s icy and cold, we think of you guys often. I hope your family has a wonderful New Year.

  19. prayers for you and your surgery team next week and for a successful outcome.
    katherine jordahl

  20. Yep, it’s sometimes hard to think about gardening when it’s snowing and low temperatures outside. But a good garden does take time to plan; the bigger the garden or more of them takes even longer!!
    I promise I’ll take it easy after the surgery.

  21. I just got an email from a seed customer, and she told me her new catalog was missing pages 9-? and pg 33 on. If anyone else has a catalog like this, please let me know and I’ll replace it. Those were direct mailed from the printer, and I have boxes at home. I just hope THEY are intact!! EEeek!!!

  22. Well upside is your neck of the woods isn’t expecting an 7-8 inch dump of snow on Tuesday. Yesterday we were and today it looks like we’ll get, drum roll, more rain. BUT.. I do see the temps dropping for your area the day after your surgery. Can’t remember how far you have to drive or if you go home the same day. Regardless, glad you have propane heat as a back-up system.
    Stocking up on “critter food” is a good idea, surgery or no surgery. Those of us in the north are due for a dumping of snow (and may it be snow, not ice). We’re on borrowed time when it comes to the white stuff.
    Better half had one of those ice machines for his shoulder post surgery (which is still sitting on a shelf in our basement). The shoulder “wrap” is large enough for a knee also. I think you’ll like it.

    • We are supposed to be getting colder. That’s to be expected. We have about a 100 mile drive to the hospital and home, maybe the same day. Nope, we don’t have propane backup heat. Yet. Luckily, I have David to stuff the stove and put the dogs out to potty. Thank God!!
      We went for critter food today. Mittens and Buffy smiled at the 40 pound bag of Meow Mix!
      And Will plans on hauling out six big round bales for the cows, just in case we get held up due to the surgery having problems etc.

      • Wherever did I get the idea you had propane backup heat? Perhaps it was discussed in a previous blog – who knows. But glad you’ve got David and you’re alleviated him of hauling hay bales.

  23. yummy lookin canned beans! yep, its not really that far out for our gardens to goin this (2024!) spring- at least the planning of. though we have snow/rain falling today here. praying your knee surgery goes well. dont forget to TAKE IT EASY afterwards(remember Will!)

    • And they are yummy too! Thanks so much for your prayers!! I will take it easy afterwards. Even Will admits to being wrong to try to put that tractor door on, although he said it was slipping and grabbing the wall that did him in. (Hey, he’s a guy!!) LOL

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