Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Logging In The Forest

View of our homestead from the forest

Living surrounded by the state forest sounds pretty nice to most people. Most of the time it is. But there are a few things about it that are not pleasant. One of them is that the Department Of Conservation sells wood to logging companies and private citizens for firewood. Not that I mind them doing that, nope, it is just the process of them getting the wood out and transporting it.

 Across the road from our house

Many of the trees in the state forest around us are now marked with blue or orange paint to designate trees being sold to various logging companies or individuals. We do not know exactly what the marks mean. Some of the trees are very small elm trees. Not much good for firewood or lumber. Maybe they are marked to warn them not to knock them over or damage them. I know it means that it will open up the forest a bit and will allow more sunlight in to hit our solar panels. It will also be good for the trees themselves to be thinned out a bit.

Trees wearing the mark of blue paint!

For the most part, our road is pretty quiet after labor day, until hunting season. Then after hunting season not much traffic at all during the winter. Our road is maintained rather well. But people just don't come out this way much during that time. If we get a lot of snow, we do get snowmobilers as our road is a snowmobile trail. If they start the logging process soon or right after hunting season, that will not be the case.

 Our little traveled dirt road

The logging trucks will come in early in the morning, like 6:00 AM, and I am not kidding about that! The men will be operating big heavy equipment that goes into the forest to take the trees down. We have even seen them use a machine that works like giant scissors that cuts the tree right off. So all those heavy logging trucks, heavy equipment trailers loaded with the equipment, not to mention the loggers themselves who drive back and forth several times daily...............a lot of traffic on our small dirt road.

 Sunlight streaming into the forest

The other thing that will take some getting used to will be the noise. They will be very noisy all day. We are not used to noise out here. It is very quiet and peaceful all day. Our horses are used to it being quiet, but they will adjust quicker than we will. They will probably enjoy having something to watch all day. My cats are used to going out in those woods, but I am sure they will be wary of the loggers, and not venture out as much. If it is colder though, they will be staying inside more anyway. So we'll see what happens. Maybe I'll get some good pictures of the logging process! 




Copyright © 2011 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2011  Kathleen G. Lupole


Monday, September 26, 2011

The Forest Homestead In Autumn



Fall is coming quickly here. Our days are shorter. The trees are changing colors. Their leaves are dropping. Our garden plants are fading. We are keeping our windows closed during the night. And of course, our usual fall visitors that come into the house to find a spot to hibernate........the conifer bugs, or also called the "stink bug" are making their way slowly right now.


The leaves change color when the temperatures get lower. When the days get shorter. They change slowly at first, then it will accelerate. Soon all the trees will have the beautiful color that everyone looks forward to seeing. They will even have a fall smell to them as you walk through the forest and yard. It will be a strong smell here as we are completely surrounded.



In our area, of upstate NY, we almost always get a lot of rain in the fall. With that, usually comes wind too. The combination takes most of the leaves off the trees. I will be sad to see the trees bare again, but that is the season process.



We are busy doing our fall chores. These are the chores to help us get through the winter easier. Every year we find there are things we should have done, so if we remember back that far, we try to do it for the up coming winter. I want it to be very organized this winter so there won't be much stress. So far I am accomplishing much in this area.



I am still canning foods, but in truth, I never stop. During the winter I will be canning meat, cheese and butter. Now, in the fall is the time for canning tomatoes, fruits, especially apples, which are abundant in our area now. Also winter squashes, pumpkins, beets, cabbage and any root vegetables that grab my eye. If I didn't grow it, I will buy it locally. What about you? Are you still canning or about done with your food supply for the winter? I hope you got a lot of food and supplies put away for the winter this year. I know I did!




Copyright © 2011 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2011  Kathleen G. Lupole

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Preparing Your Family For Disasters



When you get the order that you have to evacuate your home due to fires or floods, what do you do? You don't have time to pack a suitcase in many instances. I know for myself, the items I will certainly grab will be this laptop, that is my lifeline, and there is no way I'd leave it behind. My digital camera is the other thing. I would not want to be without either. And the external hard drive. This is where I keep my pictures, music, videos, my books and articles that I have written. All important stuff I would not want to lose. This is one reason I have been putting everything in digital form and getting rid of physical items. Less to worry about.


The item that you should have for each and every family member, including the littlest infant, to each of your pets, should be a Bug Out Bag, or better known as a BOB. These are available for sale all over the place. In fact, the government sites for emergency preparedness, recommend having what they call a 72 hour kit for each member of your family. I prefer to make my own up and not buy one already made. This way it has what you or each person of your family will need or want in that type of situation.


The very first item to get for your BOB is the bag itself. I picked up a really nice one at my thrift store. The last time I was there, I noticed they had a lot of them available. Make sure it has room for everything you want to carry, and most important, that it is waterproof.


Water - You can buy water in little bottles for this purpose. I don't usually like to use plastic, but in this case it is probably your best option.


Food - Three days of nonperishable food. Food that can be eaten directly from a can with no cooking is good. Even if you normally like it warmed up, but edible, is all that matters. Include a manual can opener. I have bought the kind of cans that are pop tops. Or you can buy MREs from the emergency preparedness sites, Amazon or the Sportsman Guide. They are light weight and campers and hikers use them because they are easy to use. You will need a source of hot water to use them.

Food needs to include some canned milk and juices, not including the water.
Some ready to eat foods, even if they are not the kind of food you usually eat. Like Spam (it IS meat, protein!), Dinty Moore Stew, roast beef hash, tuna, canned soups, etc (you get the idea).
High energy foods like peanut butter, nuts, crackers, granola bars, etc.
Instant coffee, tea bags, powdered creamer, sugar.
Include some hard candies, cookies, cough drops, etc.

First Aid Kit - Assemble or buy one that is not bulky. Keep it in your BOB. You only need one of these in your family.

Clothing - One complete change of clothing for each person in their bag. Warm clothes, especially if in a flood is essential. Here is what you need to include:


Jacket or coat
Long pants, like sweat pants are good.
Long sleeve shirt, like a sweatshirt.
Sturdy, comfortable shoes
Waterproof boots
Hat, gloves and scarf
Rain gear
Change of underwear
Socks, more than one pair of these.
Blanket or sleeping bag


Sanitation Supplies - The worst thing is to go without our basic needs to be clean. Include plenty of these items for each family member. If someone has different needs, include them. You can include the items you share as a family in one larger BOB. Like an Army duffle bag would be good. It would not be something you can carry easily through the woods by foot though.

Toilet paper
Soap
Liquid Detergent
Mini or Maxi pads
Toothbrushes and toothpaste
Shampoo, brush, comb, etc.
Deodorant
Disinfectent
Bleach
Plastic garbage bags and ties (can be used in the bucket for toilet)
Plastic bucket with lid (can be used for a toilet)

Wind-up flashlight

Tools - Items needed for various reasons. You can adjust this list to suit you. But remember you may need some items that you don't normal use and this list is from FEMA's site.

Mess kits or dishes for each member with utensils
Transistor radio with extra batteries
Flashlight with extra batteries, or wind-up version
Jack knife
Scissors
Duct tape
Pliers
Hammer
Compass
Waterproof matches in waterproof container
Whistle
Pencil, pens, red marker, paper
Signal flare
Portable water filter
Needles and thread
Plastic sheeting
Aluminum foil
Plastic storage containers


This is just a basic guide that I tried to put together. I am back to working on my own BOB right now as I never finished assembling it. As I discover what works for me, I will post here, so you can put together your own too. Hope this will help you get started! No matter where you live, from a fancy apartment building in Hollywood, CA to the wilderness of Minnesota, to Key West, FL............you REALLY do NEED to be prepared!

*All the photographs of the products in this post are from Amazon and contain my affiliate link. I did not have photographs of these types of products to show you, so I used their links. If you have any questions about what that means, than please view my page, FTC Blogging Disclosure.


Copyright © 2011 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2011  Kathleen G. Lupole

Friday, September 23, 2011

Flooding In Upstate New York

 The Susquehanna at a nicer time!

Self-reliance is never more apparent to me than when natural disasters happen. In my area, of upstate New York, this month, we had tropical storm, Lee hit. With the relentless downpour of rain, the rivers were quickly at flood levels and beyond.  The areas anywhere near the Susquehanna River and Chenango River, and all the creeks, flooded beyond anything I have ever seen in my lifetime around here.

Third Avenue in Twin Orchards

Many people have lost their homes. Or they have to rebuild their homes. Many are tearing out the walls, and trying to repair damage that is not covered by their insurance, because they were not in a flood zone. One area of Vestal, NY, Twin Orchards, is an area I lived in many years ago. The house we lived in has appeared in pictures completely surrounded by water. Makes me sad to to see that, as it was a wonderful house. All the houses on the same street and surrounding area, were so bad that it was days before the residents were even allowed to go back to see their homes. To see if they even had homes! So heartbreaking!

 I read in the paper how one young couple in that area had just finished renovating their kitchen. You know how excited you are when you do something like that? They had no flood insurance due to the fact that in 2006, there was major flooding here too. But they said it wouldn't happen again for 100 years. Something to do with the hundred year flood plan. So some people didn't feel they needed it immediately. Hurricane Irene didn't do this much damage when it came through our area.
 

The Chenango River

Now people are trying to clean up. The mold is very dangerous. Various clinics are offering free Tetanus shots for anyone working in these areas. It can be deadly, and especially for anyone with lung problems. One of the reasons this is so bad is that everything flooded. Fuel tanks, hazardous materials that were stored in houses, garages, vehicles, businesses, and sewage, and all that has gone into the flood water. It stinks! And it makes many people sick to smell it. Many people from other areas have come to help residents. They can't do this alone. Many are elderly, many are young couples who don't know how to do this themselves. And what about the children? Their schools were flooded too.

Most of the residents who had flooding have lost most of what was in their basements. Which is, of course, their furnace, washers and dryers, and whatever they had stored down there. Then people who had worst flooding lost everything on the first floor also. Some people were lucky enough to move some of their stuff to the top floor if they lived in a two story house.

 Home Depot was completely flooded!

Not only are homes effected by this flood, but businesses also. Some have decided not to rebuild and are leaving the area. Taking with them the jobs that are needed so desperately at this time by many triple cities residents. Some of these were in business for over thirty years or more. They have had enough!


According to WBNG-TV, "Miller Farms in Windsor is just one of the many farms devastated by flooding in Broome County. " They had 65 acres of their corn crop destroyed and their insurance will pay for only half of that amount. That is what they feed their livestock with. Mr. Miller had to buy $75,000 worth of corn feed to replace it. Also the fourth cutting of hay was lost due to the water standing in the fields. So this will effect not only the cows' feed, but our food also.

To read more go to: Flooding Ruins Crop For Farms.

Binghamton, NY

So I have been busy getting together a box of clothing to take to one of the donation points. Most of these people have lost everything. Owego, NY has been devastated as well. It is struggling to get back to normal. Normal? I don't think it will ever be normal again.








Copyright © 2011 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2011  Kathleen G. Lupole





Monday, September 19, 2011

Our Garden Did Great This Year!

One of our harvests!

I love bringing in my daily harvest! Such a good garden year for us. I have canned 73 quarts of yellow squash. And that does not count all the squash casseroles and plain squash we ate for meals. It was certainly plentiful this year. Green and wax beans did very well also. I forget how many quarts of them I canned. I have a pantry full of them though. It does my heart good to see all that food in there, knowing winter is on the way.



Cucumber Plant in front

Cucumbers too! As you can see the cucumbers were doing well too. I hate buying cucumbers from the store, and in recent years was forced to, as my plants just would not come up. This new cucumber plant we grew this year was the best. I will grow it from now on. It did get a late start, but next year I will get it in sooner.

More plants in various places.........


Today, I started pulling up some of the plants. The squash plants still have blossoms, but the squash that comes on them is not making it. They have produced well, but their time is over. Sad to see, but they don't look so great now. I am eager to pull them up and put the garden to bed for the winter.



 Fall is coming


So how did your garden do this year? Hope it was a good year for you also. I am still canning foods though, and what I don't grow or raise, I buy. That is the type of food we like. Winter is tough here, but it means we have natural refrigeration. So some things are easier, and some things are harder. Just praying that it is not too tough.



Copyright © 2011 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2011  Kathleen G. Lupole










Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Buying A Washing Machine

 Laundry Day at Peaceful Forest!

Buying a brand new washing machine is always something to look forward to. Not that you want to spend the money, but that you like getting that new machine. Especially if your old one is giving you a hard time. So you really want to get a good deal, but you also want the best washing machine possible for the money. One way to do it is to do what I did...........compare them online. Read about each brand and each model. Look for the models that offer the functions that are important to you.

 Whirlpool Cabrio

Since we generate our own electricity using solar panels, we had to find the most energy efficient model we could. It had to be an Energy Star model. The one we settled on was Whirlpool's Cabrio washing machine. It was the most energy efficient top loader model, available at that time. The machine we bought uses about the same amount of power as our laptop computers.

 Sure beats going to the laundromat!

The things I looked for were available in this model. It may not be the one you are looking for. I like top loaders as it is easier on me instead of bending down. My knees aren't so great and bending seems to aggravate them. So I searched online for my washing machine, and was able to look at all the different brands and models, before settling on one. You can also search for a dryer as well, I don't have one so didn't do that search. Shopping this way makes it so you don't have to "settle" for what the local store carries. You know what I mean?






Copyright © 2011 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2011  Kathleen G. Lupole

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Raging Waters Around Us

 High Bridge Over Ludlow Creek

The last few days our area has been getting a lot of rain. It is a lot worse than Hurricane Irene did when she came through NY state. All I heard last night was the steady pouring of the rain. Hard pouring. I like a gentle rain. But this was anything but gentle. Constant.

Stressful night out in the rain all night!

At night my husband usually gives our horses their "night hay," which is their hay to eat during the night. They will usually have enough to eat most of the night. Last night because it was pouring so hard, he didn't give it all to them. He said he'd get up during the night sometime and take more out to them. Only thing is, he didn't wake up to do so. So our poor girls had to stand up all night in that downpour, and could not go into the barn since it was flooded. Not do much more either. Today, they are very appreciative of their morning meal.

Ludlow Creek This Morning!

On each side of us are two small towns. One is Greene and the other is Oxford. Both are along the Chenango River. The road that runs through them, which is a main route and traveled heavily is Route 12. It is a truck route to the small towns and cities along the way through our state. Both towns are flooded today and even though the rain appears to have stopped, the flooding can get worse this afternoon as the river crests.

High Bridge, Ludlow Creek State Forest

Most of our roads here in Chenango County and nearby, Broome County are closed due to flooding. So we are in state of emergency here in NY today. Schools and businesses are closed. People are being evacuated from their homes. The Susquehanna River is a big river that runs through Broome and Tioga counties in our area. When we have a lot of rain, flooding becomes a very real possibility nearby. In 2006, many people lost their homes due to flooding.

Down by the creek this morning!


Our little creek becomes a raging creek after storms like this. Kind of scary seeing it this way right now.Standing high above it on the bridge, I feel safe. I can only imagine how it is for people who are being evacuated out of their homes due to raging waters. Where we live, we are pretty safe and prepared for most disasters. In truth, I did not have any idea the extent of the rain, until I turned on the computer. One of my husband's Facebook friends made a comment about it. Two people very close to me had to be evacuated, and I am praying they will be okay, and still have homes to return to. In some parts of the country, people are being evacuated due to fires, and some to flooding............praying they will all be safely returned to their homes soon.





Copyright © 2011 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2011  Kathleen G. Lupole

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Our Horses Live A Pretty Peaceful Life

 They come out to eat their hay!

Most of the summer our horses have stayed in the barn. They have the option of going in and out on their own. Summer has never been their favorite season. I can go in and sit on the bench next to them and watch them sleep. That seems to be what animals do most of the summer.

 Georgie Girl Was Banned From The Fingerlakes Track!


The funny thing about these girls is that they really would rather stay in their barn all day and only come out at night. They come out and eat hay, grazing from pile to pile. My husband puts it out, and spreads it around in various piles, so that no one horse can hog it all. And they will! They lay down a lot out in the paddock during the night and early morning hours. That is what they do.


Dark Shadow, my husband's horse

Their life is pretty peaceful as far as a most horses'  lives go. They get to do pretty much what they want. In the winter, they really love the snow. After a snow fall, we will get up in the morning and they will be up and out in the fresh snow. They like to eat it and lay on it. So winter for them is no big hardship. At least not for them!


 Tawny hoping for hay!

Summer means bugs, and that is why they stay inside. Even though the bugs are in the barn too. Not as bad I guess. Our paddock has grown larger over the years, as we cleared it. The only thing is, that as our girls are getting older, so they are not quite as spirited as they once were. I can remember Dark Shadow running all around the paddock in a circle pretty often. Or the way she'd try to get Georgie to play with her by rearing up. Not as much anymore. I guess we are all aging around here! Even our mares!




Copyright © 2011 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2011  Kathleen G. Lupole





Saturday, September 03, 2011

Canning My Summer Squash

I Have Stopped Counting How Many!

Our garden this year has been producing a huge amount of summer squash. Mostly the yellow crookneck type. But zucchini has been coming too. So instead of giving it away or selling it out front, I have been canning it. Canning books and "experts" will tell you that you cannot can it. When asked for the reason why, they say it is because you won't be happy with the finished product. Well, how do they know what I will be happy with? In fact, I am very happy with it.

Huge Squash Plant Took Over Our Compost Pile!

I have written on here a few times about the squash plant that grew in our composting pile on its own. Well this plant has taken over the whole compost pile. My husband can hardly get the wheelbarrow in there to empty the manure from the barn every morning!

Strange Looking Squash!

This plant has squash on it that looks like footballs, I am NOT kidding! So with all this squash from our garden I am using up my supply of empty canning jars pretty rapidly. Mind you, I am not complaining. I like doing that. Before long, my pantry won't have a spot left in it to put anything more.

I Peel, Seed & Cube It!


This is how I can the summer squash if you'd like to try it. Because I have done it in the past, I know to peel it and seed it. The peel becomes tough after canning and sitting in the jars. We ate it, but it was tough. And the seeds were just too much too. So I get rid of both for canning. I have been cutting it in chunks instead of slices. It will work good this way, and since I use it in casseroles anyway, it won't matter a bit.

Canning Equipment Is Ready!

You can put them in your jars raw, or fill a stock pot with the chunks of squash and add water to the top. I have done it both ways. Then heat until boiling point. While you are heating that, fill your clean canning jars with hot water so they are warmed up. Get your lids and rims ready, and put them in hot water to wait until you need them. Once the squash and water is hot, take that off your stove, and put your pressure canner (NOT a pressure cooker........there IS a difference!) on the burner with about 3" of water in it.

Use A Pressure Canner!

You can put 1/2 - 1 tsp. of salt in the jar before you fill it, if you want to. Salt is just for taste. Sometimes I add it, and sometimes I don't. Fill a jar with the squash and add enough hot water to go to 1/2" from the top. Then wipe the rim of the jar and put a dry rim and lid on. Put the jar in the canner and do the rest of the jars the same way. After it has exhausted for 10 minutes, put the regulator on it, and bring it up to pressure. In my case, it is 10 lbs. pressure for 25 minutes for quarts, or 20 minutes for pints.

 Canned Summer Squash!

After its time is up, I turn the burner off and the pressure will drop. Do not try to open it or take the regulator off before the pressure is at zero. I wait till I hear a little noise from the exhaust, then I still wait about five minutes, before removing the regulator or the lid. Always lift the lid away from you so you don't get burned. Then I let the jars sit about five minutes more with the lid off. Then I take each jar out with the jar lifter, and set the jar on a doubled towel in a spot where they can sit for 24 hours undisturbed. Do not attempt to remove the rims until the 24 hours is up. I always wash the jars after I take the rim off. Then label the lid before putting them away in your pantry or root cellar.

 Our Favorite Squash Casserole!


One of our favorites is my famous squash casserole. The canned squash is perfect for that. I can skip the step of cooking it first because it is cooked in the jars, and is already soft. The recipe is here, in my previous post, My Favorite Squash Casserole. I hope you will try it and enjoy it!




Copyright © 2011 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2011  Kathleen G. Lupole