roberta mccanse

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since Apr 19, 2015
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Near Libby, MT
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Recent posts by roberta mccanse

About three years ago, in this thread, I missed an inquiry about the kind of door handles we had used, from Restore, in my underground house. Hopefully the pictures are still of interest. Note that if you have a pet that has learned how to open doors by pushing down on these handles you may wish to install them upside down. I had a big pit Akita foster dog that could follow me into the garage demanding to not be left behind. A regular door knob stopped her but she made a mess of it. She ended up going along almost everywhere I went.?
2 days ago
Our animal shelter has had a skunk problem. They eat the cat food that we leave out for the feral cats that live outside our buildings. We bait the traps with the food they’ve been stealing and catching them is no problem. Nor is relocating them. I guess that a no transport rule for wild animals just wouldn’t fly in our wooded mountains.

If the water bowls are dirty we know that we are dealing with raccoons instead, or maybe something larger. A bear or two have been sighted by volunteers walking dogs. Maybe we just need a bigger trap?
3 weeks ago
I’m another one who loves water bath canning for tomatoes. Two big pots on my gas stove, one for the jars and one for the tomatoes, works well. A friend who cared for the tomatoes I had planted from seed decided not to plant any this year so I ended up with over twenty tomato plants in my garden. That’s a lot for me but you can never have too many canned tomatoes.

Anyway, I cut them in half and roast, cut side down on parchment paper, at 425 F for at least 20 to 30 minutes. The skins pinch right off. Taste is concentrated and there is less liquid. They go into hot jars with a little salt and a little lemon juice, water bath for about 20 minutes and good to go. If I have time I also use them to make and can spaghetti sauce and salsa. Just a little prep time and easy to end up with a great feeling of accomplishment. Love those petty jars lined up in the cabinet.

I also use my pressure cooker for green beans, beets, chicken, etc. Once you’re done a batch or two you will be comfortable with it. Certainly easier than my mother’s time consuming effort with rubber bands or paraffin to seal jars. And certainly safer with a modern pressure cooker.

Again, easy and rewarding. The Balls BlueBook got me stared.
3 months ago
Thanks for the information about container growing berries. I will do more reading about containers and perhaps try container growing raspberries and strawberries. I would like to add another hoop house with shade cloth that lets in good sunshine. Hoping that this will discourage the birds. My tubs raised on cement blocks also discourage the chipmunks and ground squirrels. We will see. I am unsure about my soul ph, need to test.
8 months ago
I would love to have blueberries but our soil is very basic, a high ph. I tried and lost two bushes with lots of pine mulch and additives intended to lower ph, to no avail. Should I try growing them in containers? Raspberries do OK , not terrifically well, on a sunny slope. I would like more of these as well. And of course I have lots of birds. We are zone 4.

Thanks for any suggestions.
8 months ago
A friend gave me three hens, one old one died in the first month but the other two give me almost an egg a day. They live in a coop that as previously used for seven chickens, All of whom passed away naturally years ago. My son secured the coop with hardware cloth from floor to top and although I have found evidence of something trying to dig on they have been unsuccessful. I fill holes with gravel and rock.

The coop is under an overhang that’s extended over garage doors so they are reasonably secure, protected from weather but get good sun from the southwest. Once in a while I will surprise a large bird that had been sitting in the beams overhead, trying to decide how to grab a chicken. But Again, no losses.

One day I must have not latched the coop door and one of the girls escaped. No way to catch her in the snow and woods. I mourned her loss but two days later she showed up asking for dinner. Ha. I thought that she wasn’t very bright but she was clever enough to avoid the many predators out there. Good girl. Welcome home.
8 months ago
Check out Davis Caves. Marty Davis built my earth sheltered 1750 sq. ft home near Libby, MT. Many thanks to local excavators and Charlie Kack, the concrete guy, who were willing to do this other than stick built structure. There are three “pillars” that support the roof, no steel cross beams up there and the design is unique to Davis Caves and proprietary. I have been here for 15 years with no leaks. There are ten inches of concrete, lots of rebar, and three feet of dirt on top. I garden on the roof. I’m at the top of a ridge and have great Mountain View’s, lots of windows facing due south.
10 months ago
How about an animal appreciation day? Look for and follow tracks in the snow, photograph wildlife, build bird feeders, identify and count birds, start sunflowers and milkweed for wildlife garden, learn animal first aid skills, take new pets for neuter/spay, have a vegetarian feast…
Creating a backyard fruit forest.  
1 year ago
Freezing is so easy, especially with blueberries and raspberries. I pop them in baggies and freeze for smoothies, or just to sit and eat on a hot day. I like to blanch and freeze kale and spinach, also put them in ice water, drain, flatten in baggies so that I can “file” them upright in freezer boxes. I pull out a bag and break off a chunk to throw into casserole, soup, eggs, etc.

Still, my favorite is canning. I love shelves full of jars of fruit, jams, pickles, vegetables, and chicken or salmon, which really aren’t that hard to do in my pretty big pressure canner. Canned foods last forever but I admit that the flavor suffers over time. I found a quart of ten year old chicken soup in the depths of my cupboard, perfectly sealed but after the first bowl I gave it to the chickens, (Little cannibals that they are.)

I tend to can what people like. Chow chow and picalilly for my sister, pepper jam for the kids and the vet, pickle relish to clean up what’s left in the garden at end of season. I can tomatoes and spaghetti sauce for me. I dry the halved tomatoes in a hot oven for about forty minutes because the flavor is concentrated and the skins are easy to slip off.

Because I live in an earth sheltered home my garage stays cool even in summer. I can keep onions, potatoes and squash there. Good enough, all of this, for our ninety days growing season.
1 year ago