As there’s scarcely enough room to walk through there anymore, Will decided to make some shelves to go on the log wall to hold some of the bags and boxes that are now on the floor. What a good idea! He went down to the barn to scope out our stored lumber and came home with a pile of 2x4s to frame the shelves with. Luckily, with our sawmill and the lumber David has brought home throughout the past years, we have a darned good selection. So, we don’t have to go to Menards and spend a bunch.

Will, hard at work, building shelves to hold our “mess” on the enclosed back porch.
Not that we don’t need to organize the back porch…

I just checked my two flats of habaneros and other hot peppers, but nothing is up yet. (This is why I planted them real early; these guys take a long time to come up!) I’m sorting through my hot peppers again, getting ready to plant the next wave of seeds, which are also kind of long season varieties I’m trialing this year. I plan on transplanting them, eventually, into larger pots, then even larger ones. Many will stay in the greenhouse over summer, so they get extra heat from the sun, without the cool nights we are famous for.

Even with our hoop houses, some longer season peppers need more heat that the greenhouse will provide.

I’m improving with the knee, gaining more flexibility in it. But the doctor wants more and gave me two weeks to get it there before “manipulating” it under anesthesia to rip/stretch the scar tissue that keeps it tight. I’m not looking forward to that so I really hope I can gain more without that having to happen! Yuck!

Come on spring! — Jackie


  1. I’ve discovered with my knees, because they are throwing me fits at age 67 without surgery, that I didn’t realize I was not walking correctly; with my knees straightening at the end of a stride (and a little over extended). It caused tremendous burden on knee/leg muscles that resulted in very painful cramp-type, overworked muscles. Work and weight that was supposed to be on the leg/knee bone; not on muscles. I feel like I’ve had to learn to walk all over again. What was once natural is not anymore. I have to pay attention to every step.

    • I’m so sorry your knees are paining you so much! I sure know how that feels. Hopefully, by being watchful of how you walk, they’ll improve and become less painful.

  2. Even if they manipulate the knee while you’re “out”, you will still have to continue stretching to stop scarring. You’ll just be starting over, that’s all.

    • Yep. Fortunately, my flexation is getting better every trip to PT. So, hopefully, manipulation is off the table. Whew!

  3. Hi, Jackie: My pepper plants are up (jalapeno, orange, and red bell), but took 2 weeks starting in January, just sitting under a light in my kitchen. Nothing fancy. Not even a warming mat. We keep it (with the woodstove) about 68-70F.

    • I’m so happy your peppers are doing well. Peppers love heat. If the room is 65 degrees and the seeds don’t have a heat mat, it can take over a month to germinate. But they sure love 75-80 degrees. Mine came up in a week!

  4. Jackie, I had a different kind of knee surgery but with the same problem of lack of flexibility. My therapist had me frequently, gently move the skin around on the affected area to “loosen” things up. It did help. Sure hope you don’t need the doctor’s “help”. Our weather is whipping back and forth bringing spring planting fever. Not yet, but soon. You and Will have tremendous fortitude in the face of so many obstacles. You never fail to inspire us all.

    • Thank you, Carol. I work on flexibility every single day, many times a day. I am improving. I never thought about moving the skin around. I’ll sure give that a try.

      We sure have been having weird weather. Now we have just a little snow left in spots where in a normal year, it’s feet! That sure makes the itch to get planting strong. I have to fight it every day. It’s way too early yet.

  5. I was within one day of having to have my knee manipulated but luckily it started bending so I didn’t have to go thru that. What helped me was bending it while sitting on a shower chair, with the warmest water I could stand running in it. It seemed to help me relax. Best of luck!

    • I do that in the shower too, only not on a chair, just standing and kind of squatting on that knee and sliding it back as far as I can while the hot water cooks it. It seems to be helping. Thank you!

  6. Boy, that Will is handier than a pocket on a shirt! Seems like he can do anything. What a blessing. I sure hope you can avoid the manipulation of your knee. That does not sound like fun at all. I love your pictures of the plants in the hoop house. It gives me hope spring is coming soon. We had snow yesterday. Our weather is just nuts. We had some fifty degree weather earlier in the week, snow yesterday, it is 5 above zero this morning as I write and is forecast to be 60 this coming Wednesday. It is a roller coaster ride for sure. Sending prayers for a blessed week and continued healing of your knee.

    • Yes, Will can do just about everything, from carpentry to fixing bulldozers. I’m so grateful to have him!!
      My knee is gaining now so I plan on avoiding manipulation. Thank you for your prayers!! I sure hope our weird weather straightens out to somewhat normal soon.

    • Ok, gotta say it, I’ve read your comment several times and it still makes me chuckle about being handier than a pocket on a shirt. LOVE it!

  7. Our stash of lumber is called the “bone” yard. Having a designated area in which to store that is out of the elements is the key. And right now, we’re in the 11% off drought at Maynards. I found a local source for all but one food I feed the wildlife – that is seriously cheaper than Maynards. It is closer, all rural route, and easy to combine with a visit to my parents house.
    Growing your own food does require patience – my better half has been known to struggle with the “wait”.
    This is officially the weirdest weather winter either of us has experienced. Something the deer like to eat has come up in the woods – go figure. No idea what spring, if we even have one, will bring. Much less the summer growing season.

    • Yep, we’re wondering what summer will bring after this totally crazy winter.
      We’ve got a big stash of lumber in the barn, and it sure comes in handy with the increased price of everything, including lumber.

      I’m in the waiting mode right now, itching to plant more peppers and knowing it is way too early.

  8. Jackie, what a mess with your knee! Try stretching it as much as you can so maybe you can avoid the manipulation under anesthesia. I’m trying to get a master list of seeds, growing info and along with of plant info together to do staggered plantings of things so I don’t have everything ripe at once. We’ve had more snow here, at five thousand feet we get snow when the cities get rain. Expecting more snow over the next few days. A question for you. How do you keep your hoop house up in heavy snows and high winds? I’ve got a trampoline frame to use for my hoop house and need to add to it with ribs and at least one hoop in the middle. Sometimes we get winds in the 30 to 50 mph winds and I don’t want the hoop house coming down. I’m putting peppers and tomatoes in it. This area has been known to get freezing temps in the summer and occasional snow in June. One year it snowed on 4th of July about 15 years ago. I’m going to buy row covers and go rock picking to anchor the covers. If you want me asking this stuff in your column let me know. This is a big learning curve for me as this zone 5 is the coldest area I’ve lived in. Thanks and still praying for you!

    • Wow.. I had no idea that any place at 5000 feet was zone 5! Yeah we get winds in my not-totally-flat area but snow v. rain is more driven by temp, not altitude. You west of the MS river (don’t really need to know your state, I’m just weather curious).

    • Believe me, I do stretch my knee and I do my exercises twice a day for 45 minutes each. I don’t want my knee “manipulated”!!
      Our hoop houses have a 2″ x 6″ ridge beam, which supports the hoops even when there’s a heavy snow or high wind. The ends are framed with lumber and plywood, which also supports the ridge beam. We also have a couple of angled 2″ x 4″s from the ground level to the ridge beam to also support the load. We’ve never had it go down. But, before we anchored it with steel T posts, one took a flight over the 6′ fence, into the goat pasture during a high wind.
      When we lived in the mountains at 7,600 feet, we had planned on going to a clear overlook to watch the Fourth of July fireworks in far-away Helena. Instead, we had a snow storm!

  9. I’ve had that manipulation done twice. Absolutely no pain. Go right home afterwards. My doctor said it sounded like 4th of July, but I slept through it.

    • Thanks for the information. Thankfully, I am gaining on the flexibility and still have a week to go before the decision is made. I’m so glad it didn’t cause you any pain!!

  10. Hey Jackie, hang in there! I always felt that my many activities equated to lots of therapy; but sadly, it did not. Maybe you can get some “at home” exercises in before they try to manipulate you under sedation. OUCH! So be careful and good luck with all of that. In the meantime, dream of spring and happier times with seeds, plants and produce.

    • I do my exercises at home twice a day, plus the every-day activities. I’m slowly gaining at my three times a week therapy sessions, 5 degrees at a time. I’ve got 2 weeks to improve but I’m not seeing manipulation in my future.

  11. It’s so nice to have supplies like lumber ready to go when you need them.
    OUCH! I hope you can avoid sedated manipulation, that sounds dreadful.

    What plants do you recommend growing up here in high tunnels and which plants would you never put in a high tunnel?

    Thanks for your thoughts, Nancy in Ely

    • We grow our peppers in hoop houses and have also grown long-season pole beans, just to get the seed. Tomatoes do well in high tunnels as well. I wouldn’t grow any cool season crops like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower or even carrots in the high tunnel as we have great luck growing them outside. Corn is another thing I wouldn’t grow in a high tunnel as it is wind pollinated, although you might use a fan on high to sub for wind. Corn is also a space hog, as are vining squash and melons. Bush squash such as zucchini will do well, however. We have grown watermelons and muskmelons in our hoop houses, but they sure took up most of the room.

  12. I had my knee replaced on April 12th & was threatened w/same “manipulation”. Fortunately, I was able to get the desired flexibility a few times that Dr wanted. Even though I wasn’t at that range consistently, surgeon said I wouldn’t gain that much …. so no “manipulation “. Keep plugging away. Think I’ll probably have the other knee done in the fall. Ugh. Hoping to enjoy summer garden more than last year but time will tell.

    • I heard the same dire warning with my first knee and when therapy was done, I was at 120 degrees. When they tested that knee recently, it was at 140 degrees so I must do something right.
      I am gaining flexibility a little at a time in the “new” knee so I’m not feeling the manipulation right now!

  13. Good on Will!!!!! What a blessing that guy is….I think some of us wish we had a “Will” in our lives! Prayers for you, Jackie on this long road to recovery…. peace and strength for each day as it comes! You both just bless a lot of people!

    • Will is a wonder. But, hey, he’s not perfect. I don’t tell you when he yells at me or won’t wash dishes, etc. (He DID do five loads of laundry, however!)
      Thank you for your prayers!!

  14. I did some extra PT on my own which helped a lot. I still do this just to make sure the knee is flexible. While laying on my side in bed I bend my knee and then take my other leg and use it to pull so I get more bend and stretch. Put the heel of one leg over the ankle of the other and you get a nice stretch. Do that three or four times a day or twice a day increasing the stretch each time and that will make a big difference. Good luck!

    • Yep, I sure do my exercises at home twice a day for 45 minutes each. And I continue stretching and flexing the “old” knee too. Thanks for your tips!!

  15. what a pleasure to be able to work inside Will! NOT a pleasure to the appointment of anesthesia stretch. thanks for the reminder of the s l o w n e s of the hot peppers. i always get impatient, think bad seed,too cold, but patience is the key-once assured all other settings are correct. continue with the healthy recovery.
    i am so looking forward to my shipment of seeds I sent off (finally got narrowed down to what my acreage can support!) so many tempting varieties!

    • Yea, I’ve had peppers germinate from four days to four weeks. A lot depends on the temperature. A heat mat sure helps. As does putting the flats behind our living room wood stove. I just had three peppers pop up in that first batch. Wow, that was fast. Now Will has to climb up into the loft of our storage barn and get me a plastic greenhouse to go in the living room window.

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