Sunday, June 27, 2010

Ashley English Book Reviews & (gasp!) a Giveaway

Summertime meant many things to me as a child. It meant sleeping in. It meant muggy afternoons in a lounge-style lawn chair with a stack of Sweet Valley High books at my side. It meant futile attempts at fashioning a poor-man's Slip-N-Slide out of an enticing roll of Visqueen my Dad kept in the barn. It meant eating chicken patty sandwiches with mustard and dill pickle slices for dinner at 9 p.m. It meant no AC and a teeny, tiny black and white TV with knobs that had to be cranked extra hard to move from one station to either of the other two.

My Summers were lazy bliss. We hardly ever went anywhere, save late-night trips to Kroger (where we lingered in the frozen foods aisle) and Sunday church.

And every Summer, my Mama canned. My aunts canned. My Grandma canned.

I didn't really help, mind you. I was too busy trying to establish a defining mental image to distinguish Elizabeth Wakefield from Jessica Wakefield. (Of course, in the end, I made bratty Jessica slightly less beautiful and called it a day.)

As is prone to happening, at least for me, I look back now and regret that didn't stick around long enough to actually learn something. Alas, in lieu of usable knowledge, I have worrisome flashbacks of tomatoes going through the grinder. I also have one very clear and precious memory of washing peaches in a metal tub out in the barnyard with my Grandma, Betty Jane. She told me how important it was to wash them well and I listened to all that she had to say, because her canned peaches were nothing short of magical.

Years later, these farmgirl things pull at the very roots of my heart. They take me back. I want to make up for lost time and learn them and when I do, I will force Ruby to help. It's for her own good, after all.

For those of you who share my urge to open a jar of home-canned spaghetti sauce in the middle of January, have a look:

If ever a how-to manual on canning could be captivating, this would be it. Ashley English, in all of her quirky-chic farmgirl glory, provides the required litany of necessary nuts-and-bolts tips along with full-color photographs that are day-in-the-country, tie-on-a-vintage-apron gorgeous. She understands and conveys well the sense of community that permeates these old-school pursuits. But best of all, she leaves readers - urban, suburban and rural alike - with the belief that they can do it.

And while we're at it, you may recall my recent fondness for the idea of keeping chickens. I put most of the blame squarely on her. Call me crazy, but I've been sucked in by the charms of those feathery broads. And I've been wondering if I might need a few of my own.

Enter this:

For all of you maybe-wannabe-chicken tenders, consider this required reading. I know it's Summer vacation and all, but today I'm the boss and I'm giving you homework.

Ms. English's beautiful hen tome is the go-to source for learning the ins and outs of keeping chickens happy, healthy, safe and fruitful, so to speak.

In her signature style, which I adored for 1) her fearless and forthright use of the word "poop" and 2) her commitment to telling the whole truth, she paints a very clear picture of both the fanciful fun and the muck-boots work that coop keeping entails.

As for me? After reading this informative and engaging book front-to-back, I think I'm satisfied to continue my theoretical pining for some ruffly girls while I mentally prepare myself for hen poop and early morning feedings.

And while I contemplate my place in the chicken world, I will pull beets and ready them for pickling. I'll troll the web for the best canned spaghetti sauce recipe around. And I'll take notes, so that I can be sure to report back.


For the love of Pete, I nearly forgot! As luck would have it, I have an extra copy of both Canning & Preserving and Keeping Chickens burning holes in my pockets. For your chance to win the double-stacked farmgirl primer, just leave me a comment. Contest ends on Friday, July 2nd, 12 Noon, EST. I'll announce the winner later that evening.*

For another chance to win, head on over to BeachBrights!

*Contest only open to U.S. residents, please!

{All photos on this post used with permission from Canning & Preserving and Keeping Chickens.}

153 comments:

  1. I read those books about the Wakefield twins too! In fact I think I still own a stack of them!! packed away in the cellar no doubt:)
    I think chickens look fun to when they are all pretty and cute in pictures! And 'home grown' eggs are THE BEST! Would love to own those books!

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  2. Those books sound so interesting! Always THOUGHT I wanted chickens and then looked into it further and have to think about it some more. haha. Thanks for the fun post. If I don't win the books I'll have to scour the web for a good deal on 'em.

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  3. This was an awsome post!!! I loved every word. It is funny that you would post on both of these subjects in the same post, because my husband and I have been discussing both in great detail. We are designing our own coop as we speak, and the chickens are on hold with a man down the street! The canning, I too grew up with canning, but never made the time to learn. Now I wish i had...and so does my husband. Book store here I come...thanks for the book review!!!

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  4. We are on a fledgling journey of backyard homesteading on this tiny little .28 acre plot and just got word that we can now own chickens within the city limits (yehaw). We also have a small square foot herb garden So, I am thrilled on two counts about this giveaway! Even if I don't win, I will buy these two treasures.

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  5. You crack me up. I think I will hunt down the canning and preserving book even if I do not win.

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  6. AAHH a way to use the tomatoes in my garden this year... Plus we are seriously considering becoming "farmhouse folk" so a chicken book would do us a lot of good!
    Loved your happy post.. it made ME happy!

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  7. My husband and I made a deal that I get to go to my grandma's house to do some canning if he get's to go home in the Fall to hunt. (Our two food sources...even though I am a vegetarian.)I would love to read these books.
    Loved the post!

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  8. Hooty hoo I think I hit the jackpot! So funny that this is your giveaway because as we speak my dear man is out back building end all be all chicken coop fashioned with his nonprofit work volunteers recycled fence. Yaya!

    We started out with 4 baby chics one Black Bantam and 3 Rhode Island Reds. Beauties. I totally feel like there little chicken mama. They come to us to get a treat and everything. Blacky didn't make it (thanks to mr. jerk racoon) so we have our red girls and they are just starting to make those fabulous Henny-Penny precious clucks. LOVE THEM :)

    Anyhow, we also have a garden and my main man is the farmer I never knew I married (and he never knew I married) so these books would be awesome. She sounds like a hand! (as we say in ranch talk)

    I'm with you on the all wishing I would of payed more attention thing. Very unfortunate...

    Hugs, The Lady of the "Hen"House *tee hee*

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  9. Your posts are such a delight to read. We are just waiting for the day when we can experience farm life again. Until that day comes I so enjoy reading books such as these.

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  10. Well, I just clicked on the link to the girl who makes you want to have chickens and I love her blog. The garden, the photos...I think I would like to be her. I kind of feel a little about her since I put a mint stalk in my sun tea the other day. Of course, the mint was from my sister in law who cans, and grows mint and will probably have chickens one day once she moves out of the city...she seems to be able to do it all! I am like you, I like to pine for chickens and when I pass neighbours who have chickens running around their yard I wistfully look out the window and turn to my husband and say, oh, we should get some chickens...I've been saying it for about 10 years now...

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  11. THe books look very cool. Just found your blog and I love your story.

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  12. Canning seems so very domestic...GO YOU!

    If I win these books, I confess I will promptly regift them...my dear friend is an avid canner, grind-and-make-your-own-bread-er...and everything else that screams HEALTHY and HOMEY...I may grow up to be just like her...even if we are the same age...she would devour the canning book.

    Another friend built a chicken coop all by herself while 8 months pregnant with her 5th child. She just makes me feel lazy...but I still like her...so she would get the chicken book. :)

    Is it tacky to regift a giveaway?? Or just to publicly confess that one will regift the giveaway??

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  13. Canning with Gramma, ah fond memories! But alas, I as you didn't retain what was going on while it was going on. My Gramma's canned "baked apples" are lost because my Mom can't remember how to make them either! Would love the books.

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  14. I feel the same way about canning that you feel about chickens....I love the idea of it, but the closest I've come is freezing homemade applesauce in my jars. Your pantry will be brimming with beautiful jars of home canned beauty - I just know it.

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  15. I would love to win the books. I need to gather some knowledge from something besides electronic print. I want to can and be good at it, but I'm not sure about the chickens. I think I would just like that couple with the awesome coop to come and build me one and I could sit in a lawn chair evening after evening and admire it...or maybe I could curl up and sleep in it myself!

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  16. Ugh, this:
    "chicken patty sandwiches with mustard and dill pickle slices for dinner at 9 p.m."
    Sounds so good right now. At 10:53pm.
    Thank you, dear. :)
    And yes...summers...ah:)

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  17. Pick me! Pick me!
    I want back yard chickens so bad, but alas, we have a tiny yard in which it is illegal to have chickens. However, my cousin has chicks and shares in her free range eggy goodness!
    As for the canning... we have green beans to do this summer, and I would love to get more ideas since we'll have the pressure cooker out!

    Thanks!

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  18. Oh dear me girlie. I have been wanting to keep chickens too. My husband grew up on a ranch in Central California where he spent his days cleaning horse stalls, gathering eggs out of a stinky chicken coop and milking goats.....Yes, you heard me...poor thing was even forced to drink endless goats milk....gak. Anyway, the chicken book may be the answer in swaying dear Hubs into a dreamy ranch life once more. :)
    Thanks for stopping by and leaving comment the other day...Oh and yes maam, I'm sure Jessica was a tad uglier than her twin...she had to be right? Goodnight Farmgirl!

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  19. OH WOW! It's like you read my mind! I just tried canning for the very first time last weekend (I even posted about it!) My mom NEVER canned, so I just googled some stuff and went for it...I loved it so much I can't wait for our tomatos to get going so I can try them!!! And of course I'd love a book to help! Aaaannnnd...we had guinea fowl last year...they ran away. :0( Next year we're going to try again--and maybe add a few hens to the mix! So I would LOVE LOVE LOVE these books! Thanks so much for the giveaway, and if I don't win I'm going to have to look for these at the library! Thanks again! :0)

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  20. My grandmother is still canning to this day and I have suddenly gotten the urge to learn! Also, Chickens are on our to-do list too, what fun!

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  21. I would love the canning book. I use to help my grandmother, aunt and mother can chutney and beets. I have been thinking about canning pickles this year and am on a hunt for a hot water canning pot. Thank you for the giveaway!

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  22. Ooooh, ahhhh. this is my summer of canning so they would come in extra useful. (sweet valley high, oh the memories!)

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  23. I am so grateful to have stumbled upon your blog. I too am in love with the "idea" of chickens. I want an adorable coop to go near my garden and eat fresh eggs each morning *sigh*. I better read this book to educate myself on the realities of urban farming. Please consider me please:)

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  24. I want to can, and I want chickens! Unfortunately, chickens will not fit in the backyard, especially if my beagle can get to them...but for my future home, this book would be perfect!

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  25. A fond memory of mine was spending time during the summer with my grandparents and getting to eat frozen peaches. She would slice peaches, I think sprinkle a little sugar on them and then freeze them in baby food jars. Then we got them as an afternoon treat/snack.

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  26. Funny, I always made Jessica slightly more beautiful thus the reason for her bratiness.

    I love canning! My grandma canned but it skipped a generation with my mom so I am self-taught. This year we're expanding from peaches and pears and jams to more savory delights like salsa and pickles. I may need this book! And we were seriously considering chickens but they are banned from our neighborhood. We're still thinking about sneaking them in next year so I may need that one too! :)

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  27. Just wanted to say that I love your blog. It's so much fun to read!
    We have a garden and I truly want to can things, but I have this fear of killing my entire family with botulism. I did use a dehydrator last year and had an awful lot of squash "chips" to work with this past winter.
    Thank you for doing the giveaway.

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  28. What good it does the heart to hear familiar references! Of course Jessica was (slightly) less attractive. :) And as far as not paying attention goes, mine was to Mom's sewing lessons. Oh, how I wish I'd focused. On behalf of non bird people, I'd like to say that as a new chicken keeper, they are fabulous! Try it, you'll like it.

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  29. I loved Sweet Valley High! It was probably the first book series I got really into. I can remember the theme song to the show that came out in the early nineties. Memories!

    My mom is a "canner". Jam, jellies, tomatoes. She has a full shelf of her goods perched up high in her laundry room. Like you, I never took much interest when I was younger. I so wish I had.

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  30. I love your blog-each one of your posts-your life. You are truely blessed! I look forward to reading each post. I too wish I would have paid more attention to the wisdom my grandparents offered. My grandmother forced me to learn how to sew when I was young. I cannot thank her enough. If only I would have embraced the opportunity I could have learned so much more. With each halloween costume I sew or set of curtains, I think of her. The canning bug bit me too. I picked 30 pounds of strawberries and made a lot of jam. It turned out delicious! Not too bad for my first try....looking forward to canning the summer produce.

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  31. This post cracked me up! And the comments even more so!! How ever are you going to pick someone?! My chickens would love for you to pick me because I don't think they are very happy. (They roam free all fall, winter and spring. In the summer they have to be in a pen because they eat our STRAWBERRIES and garden produce.) My family and I would love the canning/perserving book because I'm not very good at canning even though I REALLY want to be! I won't bore you with my mistakes! If you don't pick me I love ya anyway! (Did that give me brownie points?)

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  32. I just came over from Sasha's blog and have been reading and reading. Your posts are lovely! You sound like such a kindred spirit. I am a Christian home schooling mama to five (well, one's married and one more in college so down to schooling three). Two babies grew in my womb, and three in my heart. We have a bitty farm with five acres and chickens. I do love raising my chickens. I'll be back! Warmly, Debbie

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  33. Ooooooh! Pick me! Pick me! Love those topics, love those pictures, loooooooooove your blog!

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  34. AAAAaaaaaahhhhhh, I tried canning last summer and it was a total disaster. I'm ready to attempt it again this summer! This would be truly helpful in my endeavors! I hope I win!!!!!

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  35. Nice Books! So enjoy your blog and your perspective on life. Thanks for sharing.

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  36. I can up a storm every summer. In fact, right now I'm using your blog to procrastinate, doing my best to ignore the stacks of apricots over on the floor behind me.

    We have chickens and I love the eggs but detest the birds. Some of my friends LOVE their birds, but I do NOT. They creep me out.

    Looking for a spaghetti sauce recipe? Our favorite is a tomato red wine sauce---lots of fresh herbs, onions, garlic, etc. The twenty-eight tomato plants in the garden ought to insure that we can sufficient amounts of it this summer...

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  37. Oh Shanny - you so so so so so need some chickens. They are like flowers. Can't live without them. Great chicken pics - please enter me right up in that contest. Even though I have girls and do canning already, I want them there books! Your summers past sound blissful to me. I shore do like you. (does that win me extra points towards winning the books?)

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  38. I've wanted to learn how to can so I am excited about this book! Thanks for sharing this!

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  39. I would love either book! We hope to have chickens in our little Russian village home - - and we'll for sure have lots of produce to can!
    I have a lot to learn! : )
    Thank yoU!

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  40. Oh boy, could I use the canning book! I can't keep chickens in my current neighborhood, but have been intrigued by the idea for a long time. Great giveaway!

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  41. These books look fab, but not nearly as fabulous as your blog. I'm so happy to have bumped into it.xo

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  42. Oh Jessica and Elizabeth, I miss my friends! :). I really, really want to win this giveaway--we planted our first garden this year and I am TERRIFIED of what will happen when I try to preserve everthing for the winter. I'm envisioning opening up my first jar of spaghetti sauce and it tasting like tomato juice. Pick me! Pick me!

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  43. I preserve alot of food, there is nothing like popping open a jar of sweet pears when the snow if flying about outside! Chickens are on my to do list for next spring. I can't wait. Both of these books, along with her Bee Keeping book look amazing, I would love to own them all!

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  44. I tried to can peaches once. I'm not sure what happened, but they turned a strange color of brown and the jars looked more like one of my son's many science experiments. I had all but given up, but this book looks interesting and maybe, just maybe I could learn to can!

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  45. Wonderful post and wonderful giveaway! I had the same problem with Sweet Valley High!!!! Eating at 9PM...love it! Us, too.

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  46. My mom canned like crazy every summer, and we also had chickens. Do you know how much chickens poop? A whole heck of a lot, and that's the only (but super important) thing that keeps me from wanting to raise some. But I'd love to learn to can and I'm very intimidated by the process, because I too, never stuck around in that boiling hot kitchen to learn how to do it.

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  47. Hello, your children are beautiful! I love reading your witty posts...and I love the looks of those books :)

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  48. I was reading this post, just hanging on every last word thinking "I WANT TO CAN, I WANT TO HAVE CHICKENS!!!" And then thinking I must get these books, especially the canning one, as I promised myself I would not let one last tomato from my garden go to waste this year. And that this would be the year that I learned how to can!!! I have already picked out my plans on how I want the chicken coop to be built. And then, low and behold, you say that you have extra copies?!?!?!? Oh you wonderful person you!!! (And not just because you have the extra books ;-)!) Oh I hope it is me!!!! But I'm sure whoever receives them will be blessed!!!! I love your blog!!! I have it on my sidebar, but my blog is private. I love it when I see that a new post has been posted. I love your family they are just precious and I have been praying for your home situation. The Lord will have something grand for you, I just know it!
    ~Carissa

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  49. I'd love to win those books! I'm always on the lookout for some new canning books and the chicken book sounds like a great read.

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  50. I have been wanting to learn how to preserve for awhile now. Those books sound great! I, too, still have some Sweet Valley High books. I found the one where Elizabeth is in a motorcycle accident and turns all selfish and mean like Jessica. I LOVED those cheesy books! :-) But I am an adult now (sort of) and would like to learn about chickens and preserving. :-)

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  51. I would love the books but, really i want to keep u encouraged that all things work together for those that love The Lord! I know if u wan to sell your house he will see u through. And, if Cory needs a new job it will come running full speed ahead to get him. I also encourage u to write and see if u can't get some books started. I look forward each day and hope that u have blogged the night b4

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  52. This is so funny: I was just thinking about Sweet Valley High the other day- and Jess and Liz a perfect size 6...but Elizabeth always wore a watch, which Jessica did not have time for :) Good memories.

    Those books look very interesting and I love the cover design.

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  53. one can never get too much advice...

    PICK ME! PICK ME! PICK ME!

    Oh and I love Calvin's father's day present :) precious !!

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  54. My hubby would ADORE it if I began canning. I once almost paid an Amish woman to make me some homemade strawberry jelly. She refused, citing that I needed to come out and learn on my own. Ashamed, I have never called her to take her up on her offer. Now, I feel like it is a necessity. Besides, I've already taken on my first garden this year and just purchased my first clothesline :) I CAN be domesticated :) So Pick me! Pick me!

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  55. I have been wanting to can for years and have never learned. I have been looking for a good jumping off point to start but I was not sure which book to purchase. Even if I do not win I will be buying it, thanks for the reference so I know which one to buy. :)
    ARFuller@cfl.rr.com

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  56. Wow...I would love either of these books! They look so visually appealing and I would love to learn to can. Oh and Sweet Valley High....loved it!

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  57. Would love these books! I really want to start canning (joined a CSA for the first time this year) but I'm too intimidated.

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  58. I share your theoretical desire for chickens. I had the perfect world when my nextdoor neighbor was "babysitting" about a dozen chickens. Our yards are only separated by a 4' chainlink fence so I could enjoy the antics of the chickens and my 90 yr old neighbor shooing them with a broom constantly. We were very sad when the chickens had to go home. They were funny to watch.
    Thank you for all of your beautiful posts. I'm sad that you are leaving your beautiful place and I admire that you have such an awesome attitude about it.
    Renee in Austin, TX

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  59. What a fantastic giveaway! Two ways to learn something new and be a great steward of our resources. We've got the space for chickens(someday :O) ) and the "I really want to learn" for canning.

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  60. Count me in - for this great giveaway!!

    Though I have yet to do chickens (They are on my to do list.)... the canning and preserving part - I can do and have done. I would agree with you that I regret not hanging around long enough to learn from the best (Grandma's, aunts and other cousins) - when I was younger. What I appreciate though is having the VERY best, my Mother, still around, to answer any questions I may have along the way. She is a true blessing.

    Sadly, it is becoming a lost art. And, I don't want to lose sight of it and all it's nostaglia.

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  61. Shannan,

    I do so love reading your posts. You inspire me to be a better writer!

    My canning story: My grandma canned green beans, applesauce, tomatoes, beef! (really), and grape jelly every year. She just stopped maybe a couple of years ago but she still keeps her garden going, with just enough produce to keep her and Grandpa in veggies for the summer and fall. I wish, I wish, I wish I would have paid more attention, and helped more than just snapping beans.

    My summer memory sandwich: Beefsteak tomato still warm from the sun, garden onion, and fresh Amish cheese sandwiches with Miracle Whip at Grandma's house. (Jamie would give me an AMEN to that one.)

    I know your garden will be bountiful and fruitful! And on day Ruby will be blessed to have canning prowess on her grown-up resume.

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  62. Oh, those books look so good! Thanks for the giveaway!

    Coincidentally, I have a giveaway of my own going on at my blog - theyellowwarbler.blogspot.com

    ~Kara

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  63. Oh shannon....ive always had regret as well, not learning my grandmas ways of canning. i was always a bit frightened of the cave like room in her basement where all the jars were residing. such regrets! i would love to learn how, if not for those peaches you mention, at least some tomato sauce!

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  64. The odds of winning aren't looking too good, but I can never pass up a raffle like this! Our garden isn't quite big enough for canning, yet! Maybe next year.

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  65. I love good summer memories...it has been a long time since I really allowed myself to fully enjoy summer, but this summer is the one!

    I would love some books to read and learn how to use my garden (once it gets replanted at this new house) better.

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  66. Oh Shannan, I'd love to win these books!

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  67. I don't think I'll ever have chicken's like my mom did or even have my own cow (which I would love). I'm not certain I would can like my grandmother's, but it sure would be fun to try. If I only won the books because I like the way they look, I'd be a winner.....

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  68. I too am contemplating canning this year, as well as our own chickens. I'm still wondering what happens with the poop as well :) We'll see what happens if I read the book on it.

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  69. I would love to learn how to can. Fun giveaway!

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  70. Your memories remind me of my childhood memories and we are a generation apart. I have always wanted chickens. I keep asking my husband about getting them. Hope all is going well for you.

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  71. Would love to win these books. Thank you for the giveaway.

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  72. Totally a city girl, trying to learn how to fit in with my canning/preserving/farming inlaws . . . I need to read these!

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  73. Oh pick me, pick me!! I would just love to win these books! We only have a small lot in town, but I want us to be as self-sufficient as possible and I think these might help us get a head start. :)

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  74. US residents only.........shoot! :) Count me out!

    I just wanted to leave you a comment and tell you that you should be writing a book. Pronto. A book about your everyday life and adoption. I will buy one zillion copies......

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  75. Oh my goodness I've never heard of these before, but consider me intriqued! Yes, chickens are wonderful... *sigh* We had a flock before moving and having to get rid of them. :( I'm counting down the years until we can have them again, as there's nothing more country and self-sustaining as raising chickens for fresh eggs. My hubby adored his girls... As for canning, I've been interested for years, but never took the plunge. I'd love to have these books for reference!!! :)

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  76. Wonder what my neighbors would think of me keeping chickens?? Makes me smile really huge just thinking about it. I LOVE chickens!!! Don't enter me to win though. I know neither of those things will ever happen in this household. I barely cook. I know canning is out of the question:)

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  77. As a gal with 7 (was once 8) chickens, I need this book! We've only have them for about a month.. so far so good, well, minus the one that the neighbor dog got... :( But, we apparently need all the help we can get!
    I also need to branch out with my canning. I can make green beans and salsa like its nobody's business. We can only eat so many pints of green beans though:) Dave Ramsey tells me that I need these books!

    (I LOVED Sweet Valley High too. I read every one that our library owned. My older brother always told me that I should be reading something better, something educational.... I was too busy wrapped up in Jessica's quest for a perfect tan for that)

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  78. I would love to win! Because A - I don't know how to can & B - I tried to raise chickens and all 13 of them had horrible deaths which we won't go into detail about here!

    Oh and I blogged the basement today - check it out!

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  79. Ah, Sweet Valley High. That takes me back. As does the canning stories. My family always canned everything we could get our hands on. I actually did help and I am so glad that I did because I still love canning but I need to venture out from fruits/jams. Until recently, we did have chickens. Only a few though, so it wasn't so hard. Both of those books look wonderful.

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  80. Just one comment for you! Barn cat + chickens = beaks, feather, feet and nothing more. Just an FYI. :)

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  81. I've just started to can, but any extra advice/knowledge I can get I will take! I hope you all have a great week!

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  82. I can't can either! Shameful that a 50 year old woman with a BS in Home Ec. cannot can vegetables or put in a sleeve or a zipper!! I taught my girls to clean, organize, decorate, manage finances, love their husband and above all, love Jesus... I always claimed if God wanted me to can we wouldn't have put me so close to a Walmart but if I could whip out a good jar of pickles I'd be dang proud! ha We did the chicken thing and dressed 50+ chickens- never again! Yikes I couldn't even eat it! I would love to have hens for eggs but I have unruly dogs! I also dream of alpacas. After the girls grew up and we didn't have bucket calves, I thought alpacas would fit perfectly in the little barn and pasture. My husband caught wind of that plan and down came the fence! So I am suck with crops and unruly dogs at the house. The cattle live in the barn down the road and he says that is enough work for him ,he doesn't need animals here too. Shoot dang dream squasher!haha sorry I am rambling!

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  83. How awesome is this giveaway? We live in an urban area, but the people across the street from us have chickens and it warms my heart to hear them occasionally, so yes, that's on my list of things to research.

    And it sounds like you and I have similar experiences with Mothers who canned! My sweet Mom is in heaven and for the years and years that she's been gone I've kicked myself so many times for not taking better notes on how she did her canning, especially those wonderful, sweet apricots that were so good icy cold.

    I'd love to win! ♥

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  84. Last year was my first foray into canning on my own - well kind of sort of on my own. I had my mom on speed dial - and had to call her several times. I managed to put away several pints of strawberry jam and a few quarts of green beans. Yummy. I'd love to try tomatoes but I'm a big scaredy cat - I've heard they're harder and I don't want to poison my family!

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  85. ooooh. ... just the kind of encouraging hint i could leave on my coffee table for my husband who is NOT convinced we need chickens. :)

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  86. and now i'm totally sure of the forces of nature! that you and i are on the exact same wavelength with miles and miles of country between us!

    my girls in the village and I are going to can this year. i'm teaching them how. we're making labels and TSHIRTS to signify the event!!!! all i know how to make are THE BEST pickles in the world. and listen...i have 13 tomato plants with nowhere to go but spaghetti sauce, and tomato sauce, and tomato puree and tomato paste (read: i'm forest gump with tomatoes!)

    not to mention that they ALL have chickens and fresh eggs daily...and sad little ol me has none. a girl has to have aspirations though.

    I NEED THOSE BOOKS, fpfg.

    sorry, i mean, fpfg i would be so pleased if you picked me. Seriously. and thank you in advance for your consideration.

    xoxo
    meghan

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  87. I know what you mean about wishing you'd paid attention to the women of your family when they were canning. The desire to garden and can really hit me 3 years ago. It was then that I realized that I had let so many opportunities to soak up all that wisdom from my grandmother just pass me by because I was more concerned with playing or watching tv. What I wouldn't give to go back and really learn all the secrets she knew!

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  88. Oh Shan, I too recall your mama canning. As I recall there was a summer day when she was canning corn and it was soo cold that we were bundled up in longsleeves for Pete's sake. So many of my fondest memories are of you, and you family at the farm.

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  89. This is awesome!! Last year was my first ever encounter with canning... and I loved it! My mama never did that stuff, so I was learning it all by my lonesome, with many mistakes and "What happened" moments! LOL It's something I definitely want to teach my kiddos how to do someday. :)

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  90. what a fun giveaway! i would love to start canning. these look like amazing books.

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  91. my gramma canned, my momma canned, I USED to can
    too busy now!
    the memories are dear

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  92. Oh Shannan! You just can't know how very badly I want those books. Both Canning and chickens are very high on my priority list and my grandmother didn't teach me anything other than how to smoke, wear gaudy jewelery and how to mix a cocktail. Take pity on my sweet friend!

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  93. I have the chicken book!!! I love love love it! I bought the book right after I got my little chickens... you should head over to my blog and look at them. There is a picture on there today because I did a guest post for someone about the chickens :)

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  94. I'd love a chance to win these books! And here's some unasked-for advice: You want chickens. You really do! They're so much fun. And so little work. And there's less poop than I expected (the eggs come out clean! How do they do that?) And try Anise Beets. I'm an early childhood teacher, and my kids all love our canned anise beets (can't remember where the recipe's from, but it's most likely the Ball Blue Book.)

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  95. I also grew up on a farm in Michigan, watching my grandmother can, and hardly took any time helping at all. I'd love a copy of these books. Having property now and a big veggie garden it kills me that I haven't learned these skills yet.

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  96. Thank you for the drawing! I'm an urban-girl-farm-chick-wannabe and I've always pined for chickens. Love your blog :)

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  97. Oh my word we need to hang out...the best Christmas gift ever to date was my BOX in 5th grade full of every single Sweet Valley book:)That summer I read about 4 a day!That canning book would make my hubby happy...he keeps asking when I'm gonna learn. I tell him right after the day I can actually pee by myself ;)

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  98. I am super excited about these books! If I don't win them, I am definitely buying them! Thanks for sharing! By the way I adore your blog, everything about it!! I get so excited when I see a new post in my reader. Have a great day!!

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  99. Heck yeah, sister! Hook a girl up! I've already got some great chicky names picked out, and I got the green light from the hubs to possibly get us some chicks for next summer. That would give me this fall and winter to read those books in preparation...;)

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  100. You don't know me well, but I'm an ex-roomie of your dear sis Keisha, and I stumbled across your your blog via hers! ;) Anyway, I enjoy your post from time to time and have to admit, not knowing you...I've gathered...and envision you being alot like Keisha in your delightful way of describing your day to day living as adventurous as a ride at DisneyLand! This post prompted me to comment, only because I too wish I would've paid more attention to the gardening & canning that filled so many summer days of my Midwest childhood! AND, AND...my sis-n-law and I are just gathering info on building our chicken "keeper" and finding the best little RIR layers alive!

    so, PICK ME...PICK ME! ;)
    God Bless,
    Melissa (Fisher) Frantz

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  101. I'm commenter 101, and I need canning and preserving 101. Fate? I think so.

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  102. Pick me, pick me! I want to know all about chickens and canning and all other farmy farmgirl things.
    Pam Yates
    Skubala@att.net

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  103. I laugh long at your canning memories... they so closely resemble mine! And I was the girl who took care of her mama's chickens, and brought her the eggs... but why can't I remember a significant thing about either of these farmgirl tasks? Especially now that I have my own family to feed...
    the books look like a wonderful help!

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  104. I love canning and chickens and would love to have the books.

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  105. I have been thinking that I want to take up canning. My mom did it all of the time when I was growing up but I was too busy riding horses and building forts in the woods!
    I love your blog!!

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  106. Would love to read the canning book but not too sure about the chicken one. :-) Love your blog and inspiration!

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  107. ok, i need to post........the Sweet Valley High books.......oh, the memories. I think our summers seem the same back then {sans TV for me} Canning, freezing, garden--my mother preserved everything in site. {uugh, don't miss shelling peas} The slip & slide of course we fashioned our own too.

    Praying for you too with your house going on the market, it will sell swiftly I'm sure of it.

    xoxo
    kara

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  108. So sorry to stalk you...I just saw the MASON JARS in the first pic when I posted a note. I use mason jars for everything. I even posted about my organization with them. Oh I love you cous. You made my day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  109. Would love to read those books this summer! Thanks for the chance!!

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  110. Please come over this summer and can with us! I must confess that I don't always enjoy it, but when winter settles in.....I'm so thankful that I did it :) I just finished a few pints of cherries that will be transformed into pie filling when the day is right. The beans are just around the corner - which are easy, easy, easy! As for spaghetti sauce, good luck my dear friend. I tried a recipe years ago and did not like the results. My mom always made the sauce fresh, so that's how I felt it needed to be. Last year I got the idea to try making it "fresh" to can. It turned out okay, but I still add my own, extra ingredients to it on the day of having spaghetti :) I also can diced tomatoes - a very fun job for the kiddos to help with. Blanching and peeling roma's is a ton of fun! You're welcome to join us anytime!

    ~Heather

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  111. I would love to learn how to can tomatoes. I'm up for the challenge given the right how-to manual. I hope I win, I hope I win...

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  112. Hi Shannon!!
    I really enjoy your blog, I always leave feeling inspired. I'm branching out and trying new things so I hope to win these books.
    Praying for your family,
    Robyn Stratton Davis

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  113. Bahaha, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield! Oh dear me, I lived and died by those Sweet Valley Twins books. My sisters still make fun of me for how much I buried my nose into those books.

    OK, and I'm so intrigued by both these books...I've been throwing out "Should we can something this summer?" for the last 2 weeks, and I've also been throwing out, "I think we can raise chickens for cheaper than I can buy them organically at the store!" These books sound quite perfect, as I more or less don't have an actual clue as to what canning and chickening entails. (Apparently, hen poop and early morning feedings. Hmm.)

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  114. What fabulous books! I can every summer/fall and have started collecting canning/cookbooks... these would be a great addition to my collection...

    And I already have 5 hens named Lucy, Ethel, Thelma, Louise and Daisy. :)

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  115. Would love a chance at both books! My beautiful, picture-perfect dill pickles ended up in the can after tasting just like a big gulp of saltwater. I haven't gotten up the nerve to try again yet! Oh, and the chicken dream....it will stay a chicken dream until my husband forgets about the picture I showed him of a chicken coop fit for a queen. He wants one just like it- unfortunatly I don't know where to find chickens that lay golden eggs to pay for it....Absolutely love your inspiring blog!

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  116. I just finished canning some homemade salsa and strawberry jam this week. These would be a great addition to the books I already have.

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  117. I am getting ready to head out and have a little chat with each one of my neighbors. I am going to promise eggs and nothing short of the cutest coop ever if they will give me their blessings to have chickens. I live in a neighborhood with houses all around, but I pretend it's a farm.
    I just recently happened upon your blog and have been so inspired. Thank you for sharing your gift! Mary K

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  118. o how i would love to have these 2 books... thank ya for a chance to win!

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  119. These two things have been on my mind this week. Our tomatoes are coming in and I so want to get canning and the people across the street have chickens and I've been thinking about fresh eggs. Love your blog.

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  120. Your SWH comments have totally made me smile! I was just thinking about learning how to make jam! Now I know the resource that I will need. thank you!

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  121. I started canning a few years back and was completely surprised by how much I love it and how relaxed I feel doing it. Chickens are a dream as well.
    Thanks so much for a wonderful giveaway!

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  122. I love the covers. I don't NEED either book because I have owned a chicken and CANNNED (Not beets, ewey. I can normal things like fruity jellies and jams), but they are beautiful. I just wanted to say, that for your first giveaway THIS IS AWESOME!
    Perfect choice.
    I'm so proud. Tear.

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  123. These books are beautiful in themselves! I've wanted to get into canning stuff, just haven't had the guts to create a mess in my kitchen!

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  124. holey moley, i never realized i wanted to keep chickens, but now i surely do. or at the very least, i'd like to become a literary expert on the subject on the off chance it comes up at a dinner party.

    i like to Be Prepared.

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  125. me.oh.my. i so love your blog and i so love those books. i hope i win! thanks so much!

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  126. Sigh....I am so blessed to see all those memory making summers have paid off. Even Vickie has held onto the memories! I cannot wait for your announcement of making soap. My only suggestion is when putting up corn, don't feel the pressure to do 50 dozen ears of corn at the same time!! You feel like a wet noodle for days afterward.

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  127. katydid01@gmail.com

    Hoping to win! I'd love to learn how to can and keep chickens. wow!

    Your friend from Charlotte,

    Katelynn

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  128. I'd love to win the books, how sweet of you to host a giveaway :)

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  129. Oh my word, I'm cracking up about this post. I'm one of those girls whose mom "forced" me to learn to can and I told myself I would never can another veggie or fruit again. :) I can still remember the raw hands (not a glove wearer) after doing the stewed tomatoes. Today, I do a different kind of canning. I "can" trims, ribbons and all sorts of fun stuff in old canning jars to include in special book making kits. That kind of canning I can definitely handle! And chickens, I've been trying to figure out how to keep them in our backyard without them uprooting all of my flowers and without them falling into our fish pond and meeting an untimely demise...maybe the chicken guru has some suggestions? Always enjoy reading your posts! Blessings, Carol

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  130. I love canning! Last year I fumbled my way through apricot jam. I was surprised to find it not only edible, but really good. Yes, I am tooting my own horn. As for chickens, it really freaks me out when they eat bugs. But I am always game for a good read. Speaking of good reads, I love your blog. I am thankful for the honesty, humor, wisdom and creativity you share. Thanks for the fun giveaway!

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  131. I love your blog. You are an inspiration on so many levels. I wish you wonderful things.
    Heather

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  132. My friend just introduced me to this author over the weekend! So excited about this giveaway. And I laugh so hard at the sweet things your kids say!

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  133. My husband decided to plant 12, yes 12, tomato plants. I need to know how to can this fall, I will be overrun with tomatoes! We also just learned that we can have up to three chickens in our "city limits" and are over joyed about that. So, needless to say, both books would come in so very handy. Thank you for the opportunity.

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  134. I am really interested in getting some chicken, but need would really like to learn more before I buy some.

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  135. My sister and I have canned together in the past but it has been awhile. She has a wonderful garden brimming with yummy goodness this year. We also discussed raising some chickens. It would be wonderful to have both books. Thank you so much for telling us about them! Hope we win!

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  136. My Mom gave me a pressure canner and a water bath but I have never used them. :) I have made freezer jams and jellies but I'd love to know more and can my own items!

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  137. Oh!! These would be great! Thanks for sharing!!

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  138. Two comments: 1.Please pass on the best recipe for spaghetti sauce, I am game but need a good recipe. 2. I want chickens for eggs and company, but can't imagine saying good-bye to any,EVER!! I can see me naming them and making pets out of them, but then I know that doesn't surprise you one bit. Surely they can do something other than contribute themselves to the supper table.

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  139. Ok....I'm new to your site and was just reading about your farm life. I too was raised on the farm and should've paid more attention to the happenings around me rather than playing! Now that I'm grown with my own family, I want to go back to my roots as well. We have a good sized garden this year and I'm clueless about canning despite my mother's efforts to teach me years ago! I'm a city girl now, but would love to relocate to the out skirts of town specifically for the peaceful life and the chance to have chickens, a bigger garden, etc. I too will force my children to pay attention when I actually learn how to do those things my mother did! :) I love the pics of your farm, it looks beautiful!

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  140. I grew up on a farm and now live on the same land where I grew up, as well as my parents, and two sisters. We all built a house here on the farm. This year, my Mom is teaching us the art of canning and we are treasuring the time. My parents are aging and time is precious. As I am typing, I hear music to my ears as the lids of 7 fresh jars of fresh blackberry syrup are sealing. The blackberries grow wild here and are plentiful. I am thinking the syrup will go nicely with featherweight Whole Wheat Pancakes this winter. Ah! There goes the last lid! It's magical!

    Lisa

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  141. I recently previewed Keeping Chickens from our library and added it to my "need to own" list right away! Thanks for the contest opportunity!

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  142. I LOVE your blog! I just found it today. And ironically enough i have been eying those books! When i read this post (i kid you not)i clapped my hands ecstatically in a room all by myself i was so excited! This year is the first year i have had a garden and have been completely lost on the whole canning bit.

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  143. Thank you for the chance to win and my chickens thank you!!
    Dottie

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  144. I was just introduced to your site and I will definitely be doing some more digging around. Love it!
    These books looks great, too!

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  145. i am a ready and willing chicken mama.
    garden is growing...canning looming at the end of summer.
    you are delicious and i am thrilled to meet you.

    enough talk, i am off to read more!

    thanks

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  146. What a wonderful post! You wrote everything so perfect it made me feel like I was sharing your summer with you. What precious memories helping our your Grandma, I wish I had that. Please enter me in your wonderful giveaway, I love canning and would love to have chickens one day soon. Thank you and have a blessed day!
    Sharon

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  147. My heart longs for everything country...I may have romanced it a bit too much in my mind...especially how fun it would be to have chickens. None the less, the books your giving away would be wonderful to have! Thank you for sharing!

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  148. Jennifer Adams (vonderadams@comcast.netJuly 1, 2010 at 10:10 PM

    First, love your blog....You have a wonderful gift of sharing positiveness with others!

    Second, I agree. There is nothing like seeing rows of sparkling, jewel toned fruits and vegetables on a shelf when it is 20 degrees outside and snowing! And the flavor and quality cannot be beat.

    And finally, I have been coveting my own little flock. I gathered eggs, cleaned the chicken house and fed those brown ladies throughout my childhood. Did you know that they love to peck watermelon rinds clean? And how fun it is to toss the fruit and vegetable scraps in for them to gobble? We also had a shimmering banty rooster, until Mr. Owl caught up with him one evening...

    Thanks for the reminiscing and for your lovely blog!

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  149. Great giveaway! Thanks for the chance to win.

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  150. Have lurked here for a while, love your posts. This is coming from an Old Grandma with adopted kids and a hankering for chickens.

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  151. Wow, those look like great books! I loved hearing your memories of summer when you were younger.

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