River Ramblings north
November 18, 2020
Fall arrived! It was time to prepare all the garden bounty for winter. I have only canned a few quarts here and there for the past ten years. It seemed like the more life got involved, and the more money I made, the less homegrown and the more prepared food I used. Thanks to The Grocery Store for case lot sales. I stocked up! I had all my jars packed in boxes in the shed. 1st spring projects were to clean sheds, build shelves, sort out all the canning paraphernalia and get some order for fall canning. I wanted to can mostly in wide-mouth pints and quarts, so much easier to clean and pack. After I got the first hundred filled and stored, I was down to small-mouthed quarts. They work OK for tomatoes, marinara sauce, chicken soup base, and chicken broth. On my monthly treks to Havre to get chicken feed, creamer, and butter by the case, I would look for wide mouth jars. They became a rare commodity, just like toilet paper.
One month I found two cases of wide mouth pints on the very top shelf. It was short of a miracle I saw them. I tracked down an employee to get them down. She had to get a ladder and crawl up four shelves, then hand them down to me. I thanked her so many times. As I was checking out, a lady about my age said," Oh, they have jars again?" I told her, "I am sorry this is all they have." She said. "That's OK; I already put up a hundred jars."
Her comment triggered the old memory! My mom canned all summer and fall, enough for ten people for a year or until fresh produce was available. I remember going out every spring and cutting lamb's quarters; it is like spinach, for mom to steam. When the lady said she had a hundred jars, I thought of mom, and how she put up 150 quarts of tomatoes alone.
As a kid, I remember we had an old root cellar where we kept everything stored. As we trekked to the outhouse, we would have to stop and get whatever mom needed from the cellar on the way back. That was somewhat creepy because salamanders often stayed in the damp, cool environment. I would reach for a jar of pickles, and this lizard would scurry away. I knew it would not hurt me, but the movement in a dim to dark place just gave me the willies a bit. I sure wish I had a root cellar today. I have been thinking about renting a backhoe or skidder to make my next year's summer project.
The ferry traffic has slowed down with the cold weather. I see the local cattle ranchers and custom farmers along with a few birds and deer hunters. The boaters also have to cross the river this late in the year because the river is too shallow to put in at CoalBanks Landing. It seems like we have had more fishermen and hunters in boats from the large Montana cities this year. I have not seen any big game come across the river so far. The bird hunters have had some success, and the fishermen seem to arrive back with Walleye, northern, and small-mouthed bass regularly.
The ferry is open! We are trying to be accessible through the hunting season. If it freezes for long periods and the river freezes, the county crew will be down to pull it out for the winter. If you plan a trip across at this time of year, call me and check on conditions, 406 378 3194.