Monday, December 08, 2008

Homesteading Couples

Living the simple life isn't always simple. And sometimes it can be downright discouraging. But it helps if you have someone to share it with - and especially if they want it as badly as you do. In my own life, my husband, Larry, and I evolved to this lifestyle together. If one of you does not really like this lifestyle or was forced into it then that person will never really get into it. I doubt they will ever really like it as it is a hard life compared to what is considered "normal life."

There are many jobs on our small homestead to be done. No squabbling about my job or his job. If it has to be done and he's not here to do his usual job, I'll do it without a second thought or complaining to him about it later. Many times I do it as surprise for him. It works the other way too as he does my regular jobs often. We work together as a team and like it this way.

Of course it helps to have a strong relationship. And during the tough times, this is especially important. This is a way of life. It's probably not going to get any easier as the work will always be there. For the most part I really enjoy the work I do on our homestead.

I like the way he brags to people about how well I can start fire in a woodstove or how I can go out into the woods and bring in enough dead wood to keep a fire going until he gets home. The first winter we moved here we did not have any wood ahead and had to go out in the forest to gather wood just to get through. I went out there almost daily to drag in whatever I could find. I do my share of bragging about all the many things he has built or how he can charm a couple of runaway Thoroughbreds into following him home!

Nothing says "I love you" more than coming home after a day of the much dreaded errands in the closest city to find that he's got my bath water hot and ready for me to unwind in! Often, I have done the same for him. It's those little things that really count.

I have found that one of the things that I do when he gets angry for some reason, whether I agree or not, I don't say a word. Just let him rant and rave and go about my business until he is over it (a little tip I learned from my mother who was married to my father for 60 years.). Then we might laugh about it later. Many times if you say something at that moment it could lead to an arguement and hurt feelings.

So many couples I know, say they can't be together every day like we are or they wouldn't have anything to say to each other. Not us! We talk to each other constantly. Since we don't have a television or go away from our homestead very often we are together alot. We both have plenty of other activities that keeps us learning and our minds sharp. Plus we both are complete computer nuts!

Just because you spend the day getting firewood, fixing fences, digging in the dirt, cleaning the barn, baking bread and canning, etc, doesn't mean there's no time left for romance on the homestead. After a luxurious soak in the tub.......some scented body lotion........maybe something feminine to wear (you must still have something!) might let him know you're in the mood for romance. When you're setting the table for dinner with your good dishes........a nice tablecloth...... a couple of candlesticks.......add a bottle of that homemade wine you saving for for a special occasion (this is that special occasion!). Don't forget some romantic music! Now deserve it!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Solar Baby - My New Site!

I have been very busy here. One of the things taking up much of my time has been designing my new website. It is and my goal with it is to bring all the informtion to you and my other readers who may be interested in setting up their own systems. You can always start small like we did. Or you can even still be on the grid and just supplement your power with a small system. Cuts your electric bill. Plus it teaches you and your family how to live with a system and conserve your power. You will also love the fact that when your power company has an outage you will not. All the neighbors will see your house all lit up and your tv might end up with company!

Another thing that has happened to me last week is that I have been looking for more than a few years now for a very close friend of mine. We lost touch with each back in the 1980s. Maybe 1985 or so. Anyway, she was living on Long Island and my then husband and I split up and I moved. So even if she came looking for me, I wasn't there. I signed up with a few of those search for people places, and nothing ever showed up. I put an ad in the pennysavers and newspapers and never heard a thing. I did find someone with the same exact name who lived out on Long Island and sent her a letter and waited........and waited. Never heard back. I was bummed out on that.

Then back in July I posted on craigslist under the lost ads. Nothing. A few days before Thanksgiving I posted some items for sale on craigslist again.......and something told me to post another lost ad for her. Well I did. Then forgot about it. Thanksgiving Day I went to shut my computer down to finish up the Thanksgiving Dinner I was cooking and there was an email from craigslist! It said, "She is my sister. What is your name?" I sent back and next thing I know she sent me her telephone number! Needless to say, we FINALLY talked to each other. And she came over on Sunday after church and spent the day here. We were looking at photos and laughing and crying all day.

You know the funniest thing about this whole story........she lives 14 miles from my home and has lived there almost as long as I have lived here. Plus everytime I drive to the nearest city of Binghamton, NY, I drive right past her house! So strange. We even go to some of the same stores. She said she didn't look for me as she was afraid I was living that life on "snob hill" and she would not fit in to my life. That tells you how much my life has changed. I told her "wait till you come to my house." You never would believe that I lived that lifestyle unless you knew me back then. So she saw a huge difference in my life now. But she also said, even though she is not into homesteading herself, she said we are headed in the right direction. And I say, "Yes, we are!"

Please be sure to check out my site. And if you need to buy books at Amazon, please click my book store link and buy them from my store. I would really appreciate it.

Have a nice day!


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hunting Season Again In New York

It's hunting season here in New York. I do not mind hunters usually, as I did grow up in a family of hunters. But these hunters drive round and round with their loud diesel trucks making so much noise they announce their presence way in advance. My three horses know they are coming at least five minutes before they appear. So I imagine the deer do too.

Animals have awesome hearing and smelling abilities! And speaking of smelling abilities, that is another thing they do, smoke cigars and what have you, plus their own human smells announcing to the wild life "here I am! I have come to kill you!" The thing to do is to not take a shower just before heading out in the woods. You should also wash your hunting clothes with lye unscented soap only and then let it hang out in your barn or outside for the week till you have to wear it. Don't use shampoos or deodorant or anything that will tip the animals off to you being out in the woods.

My brother hunts with blackpowder guns only and he will sit for hours in one spot and not talk or move around. He usually always gets his buck. It takes patience. He is a very experienced hunter though having hunted from the time he was very young with our father. He now has his own Wild West Show and puts on western re-enactments in Cooperstown among other places. He also sews leather garments, holsters, etc. all sorts of things working right from the hide. I guess it sounds like I'm kinda proud of my brother and maybe I am. But he does so many things that are not done that much these days. Like he build beautiful blackpowder muskets and rifles. That though is not what I planned to write about exactly. I don't mean to tell you how to hunt if you've been doing it for years. Everybody has their own methods.

I wanted to say that I think that more hunters are out this year due to the high cost of food this year. The grocery stores are charging us some hefty prices for a little package of meat. And then there's the question of it's safety. I have cut down on it and have stocked up lentils, beans, dried peas, etc. Found other sources of protein and have to say they make me feel better health wise. So maybe meat isn't that big of deal after all. Given my choice I'd much rather have fruits and vegetables than meat anyhow. It's just that my husband likes his meat in his meals.

Well if you are a hunter, stay safe and remember those deer have awesome noses!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Food Planning For Winter On A Budget

The Grocery Game and Coupon Mom are web sites you join to save money on your groceries using sales and coupons that are posted on their sites. Anybody could do the leg work themselves to find this information out, but for the measley five bucks a month the Grocery Game charges it's easier for most folks to pay for the service. Lots of people love it and save tons of money on their grocery bills. Which is very good. It made me think maybe I could subscribe and save some on ours..........

Well, what was I thinking? I found out from the Get Rich Slowly blog that it only pays if you eat store bought processed foods. If you are eating organic, natural, fresh or bulk foods there are no coupons or deals for those. Mostly boxed foods, frozen foods, new products that they want you to try, etc. So basically, the bottom line is if you are a homesteader or self-sufficient type of person, you will not want to subscribe to to a site like that-unless you join to save on pet food, paper products, personal products like shampoo and toothpaste, household cleaning products. Which is why I might still join. But not for the food products unless it is a condiment or something I do buy at a store.

I like to grow as much as our food as we can. What we can't grow or what crop fails that year I try to buy locally so I can still put it up for the winter. Yes, I do try to put up enough food to get us through from one harvest season to the next. We keep increasing our raised beds and hopefully will be adding fruit trees and berry bushes this coming year. We had to get our land cleared first, which my husband did himself with no equipment except a chainsaw and manual tools.

This harvest season I was able to can wild elderberry juice, wild blackberry jam, tomatoes, green beans, carrots, beets and applesauce. Now that the gardening part is over, I will try to acquire meats to can. I have been buying store bought meats, as I am able to get them at low prices. Low prices being the bottom line for me at this time. Now if I was wealthier.......I'd be buying only organic, pasture raised meats.

Canning isn't the only way I store foods. I have a root cellar that I wrote about on here a few days ago. So I store foods also. This year I have stored potatoes (had an awesome potato crop!), acorn squash, butternut squash, pumpkins, onions and herbs and hot peppers that I dried.
All summer we lived on the vegetables that we can't store, the zucchini, yellow squash, dandelions, plaintain, lambs quarters, lettuce, mesculin, cucumbers, peppers, salad tomatoes, new potatoes, swiss chard and fresh wild berries.

Living in the middle of the forest adds to our food plan immensely, as there is so much available out there. I use pine needles for tea and that is also a good way to get a high dose of vitamin C. I haven't even begun to make a dent in how much is really out there. I am learning more though every season and it is something I really enjoy. After all ,God put it there for us to use for our health and our food.

One thing that really got me thinking about this is that yesterday my husband cut down a tree that the top of it had fallen in the wind last week on our horses' fence line. Inside the tree was bird's nest packed full of bedding and elderberries. He felt so bad! Hopefully, that bird had made other nests in case of something like this happening. I know chickadees do make many, so I hope he planned for that type of emergency. Which is why people too, should not depend on grocery stores or freezers......both can go down.


"He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you."Romans 8:11

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Making A Living From Home - It's Possible!

Working from home enables me to live this homesteading lifestyle. I try to combine both jobs every day. When I get up and have my coffee I check my computer for sales and questions and my emails. Then it's on to some of the basic chores around here. I used to go outside in the morning and help my husband with the morning horse chores which includes bringing in our water for the day. Since my legs have gotten too painful for those chores, he now goes outside and does those chores alone. Some mornings I can hardly walk. Working at home though means that I can still do my job instead of having to go somewhere or call in sick every week.

When I first started my online business it was with every intention of selling my husband's music cd, Classic Fantasy, a soft rock cd. But before we got very far with that project he was injured in a work related accident. His right elbow was crushed and you know that puts a dent in a guitar player's career. So I started selling used items we had around here on eBay and then started buying used things at local thrift shops, garage sales and other places. I sold quite a bit and even opened my own eBay store. Then eBay started not being able to handle the load of so many people selling so many products that everyone started selling for as low as possible. So that makes it not a very productive way to make a living. It has even hurt people who sell antiques and other products off eBay in their own brick and mortar stores. Made everything lose it's value.

I tried selling homemade crafts such as crocheted items. People do not want to pay for those type of items. They would rather buy baby sweaters and doll clothes manufactured in China or India. Then I tried the dropship life. Oh my goodness, what a joke that is. You do not know when you list something for sale if they will still have it in stock when it sells. That is why you see listings with sellers saying "this item was in stock when it was listed and items do go out of stock.................."

Many times I would get questions from potential buyers that I could not answer as I did not have the product here and could not look at it. I would send the dropshipper company the question and they would never answer as most of the time they were getting it dropshipped from someone else too! What a mess that was. Plus there were dropship fees and shipping fees that were usually where the dropshipper made his profit. A few dropshippers would say they were sending it UPS and then send it cheaper through the mail, but charged me for UPS. So what do I tell a customer who paid for UPS shipping?

Since my husband is a musician and a guitar player, it only seemed natural to find a product to sell that would reflect that. I became a distributor for Curt Mangan® FusionMatched® guitar strings. He produces a premium string with sonic clarity with none others even coming close in comparison. They are strings that create a tone that is purely perfect manufactured completely, 100% in the U.S.A. Combined with U.S.A. workermanship to produce strings with exacting core-to-wrap ratios and tolerances. When my husband put them on his guitar for the first time he liked them alot. Then he played at our church and everyone noticed and for other people to notice the difference is unheard of! So we were sold on them. He would never use another kind now.

If anyone would be interested in buying them from me please go to my site at:

I sell them with FREE SHIPPING to all U.S. buyers. I have all kinds, electric guitar, classical guitar, mandolin, banjo, acoustic, etc. So please keep me in mind if you need guitar strings or are buying some for someone else. Great Christmas stocking stuffers!

So we have settled into a nice quiet life here. Working on the computer listing products or answering questions and shipping our products while we are able to be home all day. Of course, what most people do not realize is that if you are working at home, you probably work longer than eight hour days. I do not keep track of my hours. I do so many household chores while working and then during the summer I was also gardening, harvesting and canning.

Have a good's sunny here this morning which means I have power coming into my much is coming into yours?????


"Yes, the Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. Righteousness shall go before Him and shall make his footsteps a way in which to walk." Psalm 85:12-13

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Self-Reliant Water System

Another highly important component of the self-reliant home is water. We can live much longer without food......but not water. Look at how important water is for survival. We need it for drinking, cooking, cleaning & washing. For our pets and livestock. For our gardens and house plants. It is very important to include it in your homestead plan.

As much as water is needed........look at how brutal it can be also. Where I live, two summers ago, we had such bad flooding that so many people lost their homes, and some, their places of employment, and then some....their lives. I will always think of the two truck drivers who were driving on Interstate 88 that night, and the highway was not there. Washed away by flooding. Many people, as my father's garage was one of these, was flooded, not by living close to a river, or stream, but from water rushing off the many mountains and hills in New York state.

Think back to the bad hurricanes we have had in the last few years, including this year. Look at what the water did to New Orleans and surrounding areas, and parts of Texas and now again to Texas and the surrounding states. Not to mention the tsunami that took so many people's lives in such a brutal death. A wave that was as high as a huge mountain, while people were frolicking on the beach.

Then again, the lack of water is also something that is equally as devastating. This brings about the wild fires, that sometimes are uncontrollable. People who gave up on growing food, for lack of water. No hay for their cattle or horses, so they sold them at auctions. Prices of horses are way down at this time, but the price of hay keeps going up. Can't grow hay in a area with no water, yet can't bring the hay in at another area due to too much rain ruining the hay laying on the ground waiting to be baled.

So water is the very thing that can do you in, or help you to survive.

I live in home that has never had inside plumbing. At first I thought it would be hard for me to adapt to this lifestyle change. Wasn't hard at all. My husband turned the downstair bedroom into a bathroom, and put a cast iron bath tub in with connected drains. It had a cobbled up kitchen sink with an outside drain that just drained right out into the yard. So he dug a trench for the pipes out past the yard and connected the kitchen sink and the bathtub drains to empty through that.

Luckily we had a pitcher pump on our hand dug well that was probably the only well that was ever on this property since the house was built in the 1850s. I am still using it today as my only water supply. In the winter, contrary to popular opinions, it does not freeze up. As long as you put the handle up when you get done using it, the water will drain back down until the next use. Then you just pour a cup of hot water down to prime it and it will keep you in water all winter. We use it for all our household water and for our horses' needs as well.

At a time when everyone feels they have to trust the water from the store rather than their own supplies, I feel safe with my own water. Since I live rather secluded, surrounded by the state forest, I feel as if my water supply is superior to all others. Everyone who tastes it comments on the fresh healthy taste of our water. But if you were just now purchasing a home with a pitcher pump as we have, I would suggest you having the water tested before putting your money down on the home. Just to make sure.

I have spent more time than I like on washing my laundry by hand. We puchased a very energy efficient washing machine last March thinking we could just pour the water into it. Since it is computerized, that was not a good idea. It would just empty out the water we just carried in and had poured inside! So it is on vacation until our water system is brought inside, which is what my husband is working on right now. Not until next spring though. He had to build a battery and water pump room first, and is only now getting the walls up. Then he will put our batteries that are connected to our solar panels in there as well as the water pump which will be bringing our water into the house. I am looking forward to that!

We carry all the water into the house every morning when we do our horses' water. Then in the evening if we need more, we bring it in. During the winter I have at least two big stock pots of water on the woodstoves in case we need it. For my long hot baths that I love, I usually heat three. So I am looking forward to turning my faucets on like in any other house. Though for awhile I will probably still have to heat it on the stove. For that we will be investing in the evacuated solar tubes that are heated by the sun. Yes, I know, New York state is not known for lots of sunshine.....but I am using the sun right now to power our system.

I hope I have given you some ideas to think about. Whatever you do, never take your water for granted. It is a very precious resource.
Have a blessed homesteading day!

"I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse." Genesis 12:3

Monday, October 20, 2008

Self Reliance - Today’s Topic Is Heating

Self-reliance is a big topic these days. People laughed at us preparing in 1999. Then when nothing really happened......though things did happen, but it was not visible to the mainsteam public. It was behind the scenes. There were people working nonstop behind the scenes and that is WHY nothing happened. Thank you to all those people! Anyway it is time to prepare and stay prepared. If nothing happens not stop preparing. It makes common sense to keep preparing until the day you die.

A very important item in your search for self-reliance is heating. Heating takes up much of your household expense money! Add it up for the year. Plus things are getting worse or so they say. It is being reported in the news that this year fuel costs will cause people to freeze and some to cut their budget by not buying the nutritional foods they need. So if you can find a way to live without paying a lot for your heating costs then you should think about doing it. At least for back up.

In the 9 years that I have lived here, I have paid maybe $200. total for heating. And that was for our kerosene heaters, which we have only had for the last 3 years. We only use them when it is just too warm for the wood stoves. Or, if we have been somewhere during the day, and come home to a cold house. We light them just to warm up the house, while we get the wood stoves going.

There are various ways to heat a house. But the most self-sufficient way is to use a wood stove. Not a pellet stove! If you have no source of heating fuel, what would you do? Or have you ever heard of the fuel companies turning off your tank if you did not pay your bill? They don't care that you just got rolled over by road roller at your job and can't work!

A wood stove makes it easy to find free heating fuel or very low cost. You can buy cords of wood from the state forest land in NY, for as low as $10. A FULL CORD. You can also go places that throw away pallets or crate wood. There is a tractor place in a small city not far from me that advertises it in the paper. Free Crate Wood. I saw it the other day, not good for building, but for fire wood, it would be fine.

I also gather branches in the woods. My husband cuts the trees down, and also uses downed trees in our woods. I gather alot of kindling, and we also use pine cones for fire starters. Another thing that works good for starting fires in your stove is dried corncobs. After you take the kernels off, dry out the cobs and save them for the woodstove.

We use several different kinds of wood. Pine is great for a really hot fire, or just for getting a cold stove to take off. It's also great for getting a high temperture on your cookstove. Most people will tell you that you can't use it or it's not good. Well, if you are cold, anything is good, if it'll burn. We have burned everything you can imagine. Remember the pioneers used to throw their furniture in the stove for firewood when things got bad! Let's hope it does not get that bad.....but then again......

Have a great homesteading day!!


"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Root Cellars - A Homesteader's Must Have!

I got a book from paperbackswap two weeks ago and have been reading it aloud in the evenings to my husband, and we have learned a lot from it. It really applies to us as we have this wonderful root cellar that we have not been using due to our mice problem down there. Today we cleaned it out. Since he is working on the foundation down there (he is in the process of building an additional room on our cellar to house our battery system and a water pump), he is able to work on some of the root cellar. He is determined to get rid of the mice and to make it an awesome homesteader's root cellar.

In this book, Root Cellaring - Natural Cold Storage Of Fruits and Vegetables by Mike and Nancy Bubel, they describe how they were canning so much food and it was so much work. Then when they got interested in root cellars and eventually built theirs, they learned to not can ALL the vegetables. Just the ones that don't last. They had 33 vegetables and fruits in the root cellar that were fresh and they ate them all winter. Not only that, they also stored cheese (encased in wax), nuts, wheats and grains, crocks of sauerkraut and pickles and potting soil for spring seed starting.......and a log with mushrooms growing on it.

So she would just take her basket and go to the root cellar and pick and choose what she wanted to fix for supper that night. It has many good ideas for us to use as we fix ours. By utilizing our root cellar we will be able to cut out a lot of the work of canning. I would only have to can things like green beans, tomatoes, tomato sauces, meats of course, condiments. And we could eat from our root cellar all winter, fresh produce from our garden or if it is something we didn't grow but can buy locally and store it for winter. I am really excited about doing this.

I know this book is pretty well known. I had it on my wish list forever, when I started I was about the 70th person who requested it. I FINALLY got it. It shows though, how many people are interested in having a root cellar. People are looking for ways to live on their land and the root cellar is a perfect homesteader's tool. It was the way to store your food for the future and now all people know is how to buy it at the store. Bring it home and put it in the freezer.

You can really cut down on your grocery bills if you learn to can, dehydrate and store your garden harvest. If you have trouble with gardening.......oh boy! do I ever know that feeling. My legs keep getting worse and worse. I figure I may end up doing much of my work from a wheelchair in the future. So my husband is making things NOW to cover that time period. He has been building more and more raised beds for our gardens and you can make them high enough to pull a chair right up to it. On our root cellar he is planning on making a ramp for going up and down. Then to add a dumbwaiter for bringing food up and down. You have to think of these things as you get older.

Don't think you have to have a root cellar like I have! You can dig a pit, use a closet or a porch, just about anything as long as it has the right air flow and humidity and temps. Not as hard as it sounds. Why waste your money buying expensive tasteless produce in the off season months when you can eat your own bounty from your gardens? Or purchase produce in the summer from local farms and markets.....NOT grocery stores! Think about it. Things like this become like a game to me......I love it.

Have a great homesteading day!


"Change your hearts and lives because the Kingdom of heaven is near." Matthew 3:2

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Getting Ready For Winter

This morning I received my Paperbackswap newsletter. Many people who do not understand the relationships we build up over time on the internet should go to this link I am about to post and read this thread. It will bring tears of joy, happiness and sadness to your eyes. A member of the swap, Lester passed away and he posted regularly on the forum there. His wisdom is awesome! Here is the message in the newsletter:
In Memoriam. We know how many of you loved Lester (ThreeCats). He
added so much to the community here with his wisdom and kindness. Lester passed on, and broke all of our hearts a little. We send our deepest condolences to his family, and we thank them for sharing such a wonderful person with us. You can read
some of Lester's writings, and don't miss his book reviews! Lester, PBS will never forget you.

This morning I am planning on going with my friend to Frog Pond a produce market in our area in the town of Bainbridge, NY. It is a big place and they will be closing at the end of this month so I expect to find lots of fresh food at good prices. I had some things that did not do good this year, one being my winter squash. So I need to stock up on some of that and maybe some beets and of course, I plan on buying apples. Last time I was there, I bought a big bag of apples (I could barely carry it) for only $6.00. They are what is called Tree Run or utility apples. Meaning they are not perfect. Have imperfections and spots. I just cut them off. My horses don't care. They love them. I put them in apple crisp and if I get more, I will be making applesauce. Which is my plan.

My friend gave me her Victorio food strainer. I love it. I used it for the first time yesterday to process my last batch of tomatoes........I couldn't believe how much work I used to do! No seeds or skins or even coring of the tomatoes. I usually would drop the tomato in boiling water to crack the skin. What a mess cutting and cleaning them on my cutting board. Juice running everywhere! And the seeds were always in my canned products as it was just too much to pick out each little seed. No more. It has made my life much easier. I bet my Grandma would have liked one of these.

Yesterday, I had to take apart my wood cookstove to clean it. It needed a thorough cleaning. I usually do it more often than this. I have to take the whole top apart and brush ashes and cresote from the inside. Now though, it is working great. Some people like that bed of ashes on the top of the oven, but I do not. Actually, you can even put food right there on that oven to cook if you wanted. It only took me about 45 minutes to do and wasn't really such a bad job.

It is raining here today in upstate New York. We did need it. This rain will take the last of our pretty leaves off the trees and then fall will start turning cold. I love the fall colors, but I am ready to get on with the winter so that gardening weather is back again.

Have a great homesteading day!


Thursday, September 25, 2008

The McDonough General Store

This afternoon I had to take a drive about 7 miles away to our little country store in the neighboring town of McDonough. It was such a beautiful drive, the leaves are turning and are beautiful shades of gold, red, green and brown. There is one farmer on the way there who lives at the top of the hill who farms with horses, and it was my lucky day as he was out there with his two gorgeous horses. I think they are Belgiums, and they are just so majestic with their harness on and hitched up to his wagon. What I especially like is that when you go past, it is so quiet, just the gentle rattle of the harness every now and then.

McDonough is one of those little towns that most people just drive through to get somewhere else. This town has many homes that are little farms with a big variety of farm animals. Most being horses and chickens, some pigs, many goats and a few with miniature horses and even a donkey or two. There are a few houses with the eggs for sale signs out front.

The McDonough General Store is the typical Mom & Pop type store with Mr. and Mrs. Gorman being the Mom & Pop. The store seems to be pretty busy when we go there. It has become our favorite place to go for what we call "fast food", which just means that I don't have to prepare and cook it. They have a nice deli and sell various sub sandwiches, we buy a couple pounds of lunch meat so we can make sandwiches at home. Also they have a old-fashioned ice cream parlor. The customers that come in there all seem to know one another and probably have all their lives. If you are new though, they will welcome you warmly and include you in their conversations.

The McDonough General Store looks as if it should have a pot belly stove right in the middle of it, and maybe one day it did. Now it is filled with a good selection of groceries that you are most likely to run out of. Except for gas and kerosene. Right now it has a sign out front on the gas pumps "Sorry, Out Of Gas". Too much money to fill it up. Besides most people probably only buy a little to get to the next big town to fill up, so there is really no profit there. Now the ice cream freezer is probably one of their best sellers! When we go there, we usually pick up a half gallon of Hershey's Moose Tracks ice cream........our favorite!

During the summer and holidays it gets alot of traffic from Bowman State Park which is very close by. The Fingerlakes Trail isn't much further than that so hikers usually end up picking up supplies there also. Many people from NYC and NJ come here to get away from the city as we aren't too far from there. So you never know who you'll meet there.

So if you ever get out this way, make sure you stop in there and say hi.

Have a good day!


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Lil' Red, My Little Red Hen

In my previous life, I lived a cushy life. Had my hair and nails done at a salon almost weekly. I had a membership at an exclusive health club plus I had a beautiful home gym in my home. I went almost daily somewhere to "race walk", like the various school and our local university tracks. Drove a beautiful corvette that I stored every winter. Now, I look at myself in my mirror and say "how did you ever stand it?" What a waste that existence was!

Now I think about all the money I spent on those trivial things.......and think about all the great homestead tools I could have bought instead! I keep picturing my first husband, (who was a Long Island transplant) if I brought home a pet chicken and told him, that she was going to be living in a dog kennel in our kitchen! Wow! What a reaction that would have set off!

My present husband and I were certainly meant for each other, just didn't find each other till later. So we are making up for all that lost time. Anyway, I received a call from my mother in August of 2000, and she told me to come to her house and she had a chicken for me. I thought she meant one in the freezer or something along those lines. She said to bring my cat carrier......??????? So when I got there, my niece was carrying a big Rhode Island Red chicken around under her arm. Now, I was into homesteading, but had no experience with chickens as of yet, but I had to act like I was not afraid of being pecked and know what I was doing. So I brought her home.

She had come onto my parents' porch the night before, and my father saw her and shooed her away. He had no idea where she came from. They live in the country, but do not have animals themselves. In the morning she was back on the porch perched on a bench with her head under her wing, sleeping. So the kind hearted Daddy that I have, fed her some scraps.

So I brought her home in the carrier and she seemed fine. I was cooking supper and my husband was sitting on our deck with the cats and our dog around him, when she just flew up onto his lap. She just sat there. I think she was trying to butter him up to letting her stay.

I was trying to figure out where to keep her. We live deep in the state forest in upstate New York, and there are lots of critters out in that forest that like chickens. So I dug our dog, Nikita's puppy kennel out that she had long ago, outgrown. Made a little box for our chicken to sleep in. Added newspapers on the bottom and fastened a water and a feed dish on with one of those little bungee type hooks. I named her Lil' Red. Her and I bonded almost instantly. She followed me everywhere. Even met me at the car when I got home from shopping or anywhere. She was noisy when I was gone. My husband said she'd cackle like crazy if she heard me drive in the driveway and she was inside in her kennel.

I knew absolutely nothing about chickens. So I went to our local feed store and bought a bag of laying mash and crushed oyster shells (they told me that I needed it for her). Soon it became apparent that she loved being a house chicken! I had read that you can't really keep one alone as they like to be in a flock and they won't lay if they are alone. Well, our Lil' Red made us and our other animals at the time, 2 cats, 2 horses and especially our dog, Nikita her flock. She would go out with the horses and they were fine with her there picking up their scraps. Nikita and her though hung out together and she loved to be out there with Nikita when she was eating a bone, so she could pick up the bits that would drop from it. Nikita would growl at her, and it never phased her one bit.......she'd just scratch and peck her heart away.

Then we got different cats. One in particular, Callie, really liked Lil' Red alot and hung out with her. Though there was a period in Callie's life where she got real sick and almost died. I nursed her back to health and she is good still today. But while she was sick, she would not turn her back on Lil' Red and acted like she did not trust her. Once she was okay again, she was back to playing with her and rubbing on her beak.

I will finish this story later this week.

Hope everyone has a happy homesteading day!


Monday, September 15, 2008

My Frugal Grocery Shopping Plan

With the price of groceries increasing so much in the last few months, along with the price of gasoline and other things, I am diligently working on a very frugal grocery shopping method. Another important factor in my plan is that we have shut off our gas refrigerator with the hope of saving enough money by not running it to purchase solar refrigeration. So I have to sacrifice.

When you are not using refrigeration or a freezer, you have to preserve even the foods you bring home from the grocery store as well as your garden produce. So instead of buying a few different packages of meats, you buy the number of pounds of meat that will fill your canner twice. For me that is going to be 14 quarts. Many people choose to do pints of meat, but my husband is a hard worker and a big eater. So I have to do quarts.

I look at my local stores' flyers, and my local Price Chopper sends me their's in my email as soon as it is available. I buy my meat there so that is where I start. I know that the day I buy the meat, I have to come directly home and start canning. I have everything ready to go. Go early in the day and get started and you will have it done before you know it.

I have been studying my grocery receipts and check book to see exactly where my money has been going. What I found was that we have been spending way too much on food out. We don't go out to eat often, but we do pick up pizzas, subs, wings and very rarely, Chinese foods (my favorite). So I am going to nip that in the bud right now, before it becomes a habit.

I listed most of the meals I make and the ingredients needed for them. Now I will try to stock up on those ingredients and not sway from my lists for anything extra. So for now my plans are to can ground beef, ground turkey, chicken and turkey. Plus canning chili and beef stew. That doesn't sound too expensive nor too hard to do. Jackie Clay, my favorite writer (Backwoods Home Magazine) says you should can about 3 varieties of chili so you don't get tired of it. So I will do that, one being a vegetarian type, as sometimes I serve it with a sandwich and do not want the extra meat.

For now, my plan is to have the food on hand for 20 different types of meals. That way you do not eat the same meal too many times in any month, unless you want to. The most important part of my plan is to purchase the food, especially the meat, when it is on sale. I am looking forward to trying this and will let you know how it goes and how much money I have saved.

Have a great homesteading day!


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Breakfast On The Homestead

Here are some quick and easy breakfast recipes. I have been working on my stocking up list and had to make some recipes of what we like to eat for breakfast. Some days we just grab a fruit and yogurt or some toast and jam, but I really like to make something substantial to get through the day.
Rise and Shine Casserole

6 slices dry whole wheat bread
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 cups milk / shredded cheese
1/2 tsp dry mustard
3 eggs, beaten
Salt and Pepper

Tear bread into small pieces. Layer 1/4 of the bread and 1/4 of your cheese 4 times in a casserole dish. Pour melted butter on top. Combine remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl, mix well. Pour mixture onto casserole. Refrigerate overnight. First thing in the morning, bake for 1 hour in 350 degree oven. Variations: add crumbled fried sausage or bacon, ham, cooked beans, jalapenos, shredded cheese. Smother casserole with chili, chili sauce, cooked beans, or gravy.

Home Made Hashbrowns

Slice potatoes in half and boil for ten minutes. Cover with cold water and refrigerate overnight. Shred (peeling the potatoes is optional) and fry in oil in skillet until brown on both sides.
Another Way to Hashbrown Potatoes: Boil potatoes whole, let cool, place in a well-oiled frying skillet or on griddle, mash with a potato masher, fry until crisp on bottom, flip until done on the other side. A Third Way to Hashbrown Potatoes: Use leftover baked potatoes, place in well oiled skillet, mash with a potato masher, fry on both sides. Note that with all recipes for hashbrown potatoes, the secret is to cook the potatoes the day before and refrigerate overnight..

Redneck Eggs Benedict

Large biscuits
2 eggs, boiled
1/8 lb sausage or bacon
2 potatoes, hash browned
2 cups cheese sauce or gravy
Homemade Large biscuits.
Slice in half, layer on each biscuit half, in this order: fried hashbrowns, 1/4 boiled egg, fried sausage or crumbled bacon, top with cheese sauce, gravy, or other sauce.
For Redneck Eggs Florentine: substitute cooked turnip greens for meat.

Potato Pancakes

To 1 cup leftover mashed potatoes, add 1 egg and 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour, optional is to add a 1-2 Tbsp. chopped onion.
Mix thoroughly, make small dollar size pancakes, fry on medium griddle on both sides until done. Homemade applesauce is delicious on top and the traditional way to eat Latkes in the Jewish home.

Creamed Eggs

Add 2 to 4 hard cooked eggs, cut into quarters, to 1 cup medium white sauce.
Serve hot over toast or biscuits or rice. You can sprinkle with paprika and parsley, crisp bacon bits, etc. Variation, add small amount of fried sausage to the white sauce.

Oatmeal Pancakes

1 cup oatmeal
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 egg, beaten 2 tbsp butter
1-1/2 cups milk with 1 tbsp of vinegar in it (or use buttermilk)

Soak oats in one cup milk for five minutes. Add other ingredients, mix well. Heat griddle (test for hotness by sprinkling some water on it, if the bubbles "skitter" around the pan, it's ready). Make small pancakes, turn when brown. If you don't have vinegar or buttermilk, use regular skim milk and increase baking powder to 1-1/2 tsp and omit baking soda.
To make the pancakes extra fluffy, separate the egg yolk and white, beat separately, add egg yolk and milk, then add stiffly beaten egg whites.

Whole Wheat Pancakes

1 cup 100% whole wheat flour
1-1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tablespoons oil
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon honey
1 egg

This makes a light and fluffy pancake. Mix dry ingredients, add the oil and mix thoroughly, beat two eggs and add to 1 cup milk, mix with dry ingredients. This 1 cup recipe makes pancakes for two adults, 12 -14 dollar size pancakes. Serve with peanut butter and homemade jam.

Buttermilk Pancakes

1-1/4 cups buttermilk
2 tbsp oil
1-1/4 cups flour
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp soda
dash of salt

Mix ingredients, cook as described in Oatmeal Pancakes. If you use plain milk rather than buttermilk, adjust baking powder as described in Oatmeal Pancakes.

Breakfast Tacos
1 cup cooked rice or fried potatoes
1/8 - 1/4 lb sausage
chopped onion
corn or flour tortillas
2 eggs beaten
chopped jalapenos
hot sauce

Fry sausage (or bacon, or ham) with the onion and jalapenos and drain the grease. Add rice or potatoes, stir until hot, add beaten eggs, scramble together with the sausage. Meanwhile, heat the tortillas on a griddle or directly over a low flame. Divide sausage/rice mixture among the tortillas, add hot sauce/salsa, and/or cheese as desired. Makes 6-8 tacos. Variations: (1) smother with hot dog chili sauce. (2) Add fresh chopped tomatoes, and/or chopped black olives, and/or chopped green onion.

Breakfast Pizza

1 recipe pizza dough
4 eggs
1 cup hash brown potatoes
grated cheese
1/2 lb sausage
1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper

Cook sausage until browned, drain fat. Place pizza dough in an ungreased pan, spread melted butter on the dough. Spoon sausage over dough, sprinkle with potatoes, top with grated cheese. Mix eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour onto crust. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

Breakfast Pockets

1 recipe bread dough - Ingredients similar to breakfast pizza

Divide the bread dough into small balls of dough about the size of a bun. Let rise, then roll into circles. Brush dough lightly with olive oil. Prepare filling, and put a couple of tablespoons of filling on each circle of dough. Lightly moisten the edge of the circle with water, and then fold over like a turnover pastry and seal the edges. Bake in a 425 degree oven until bread is done. Brush with melted butter after baking.

Tortillas and Eggs

This is a good way to make a few eggs go a long way. Fry some bacon or sausage, remove from pan and set aside. Tear corn tortillas into pieces (smaller pieces are better, say 8 pieces to the tortilla), saute in oil with chopped onion, garlic, and sliced jalapeno peppers. Saute for about 3-4 minutes. Beat 2 to 4 eggs, crumble sausage or bacon, and add meat and beaten eggs to tortillas, stirring constantly while the eggs scramble and set. For each egg, you can add 3-4 torn-up tortillas.

Crockpot Oatmeal

Put oatmeal, water, and any dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries, blueberries, cherries, etc. in a crockpot at night before you go to bed. Cook on low, it's ready in the morning. Add honey and milk to taste.

Have a good day and eat a good breakfast!


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Making Herbal Vinegar Today!

I am making a herbal vinegar today. I collect jars of various sizes and use plastic lids for them. For vinegar you would not want to be using metal lids as the vinegar will affect the lid and corrode it. So stick to plastic in this case. I never use plastic containers if I can help it. Glass. My best friend taught me that and she was right about that. Smell that plastic container!

Apple cider vinegar is my choice for my health. It was used by the father of medicine, Hippocrates. He only used honey and vinegar as remedies. With good reason too! Apple cider vinegar aides your digestion, reduces cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, useful in preventing as well as aiding in treatment of Osteoporosis, useful in bringing thyroid and metabolic to normal levels, reducing cancer risks as well as making wrinkles and grey hair less noticeable (that will probably get everyone using it immediately!).

You can purchase organic online or in your local health food store, but I just use the pasturized one right off the shelf of my grocery store. Wide mouth jars are easier to work with as you will be removing the herb when you are done. Fill your jar with fresh-cut fragrant herbs including the stalks, fruits, roots and even nuts. Fill the jar really well, all the way to the top with the herb. Be sure to chop your herbs finely. Best results and highest mineral content will come from a jar full of herbs! Really fill the jar. This will take far more herb or root than you would think. Then put your room temperature vinegar in the jar to the top. Cover and date and put it in the back of a cupboard away from direct sunlight, but it does not have to be dark. Don't forget about it. Leave it for six weeks.

Herbal vinegars taste good and are good for you. So use them often as they boost the nutrient level of your diet with hardly any effort and at harly any cost at all. Some easy ways to incorporate them into your every day diet:

Add a spoonful or two in your bean and grain dishes for flavor.
Of course, use them in your homemade salad dressing.
Add them to cooked greens.
Add them to your stir-fries.
Make soups that welcome vinegar like a borscht.
Always use your herbal vinegar in recipes that call for vinegar.
A spoonful in a glass of water sweetened with blackstrap molasses will give you a mineral jolt. Use this as a coffee substitute as it prevents and also relieves the discomfort of arthritic pain.

Plants That Make A Tasty and Nutritional Herbal Vinegar:
Apple mint (Mentha sp.) leaves, stalks
Bee balm (Monarda didyma) flowers, leaves, stalks
Bergamot (Monarda sp.) flowers, leaves, stalks
Burdock (Arctium lappa) roots
Catnip (Nepeta cataria) leaves, stalks
Chicory (Cichorium intybus) leaves, roots
Chives and especially chive blossoms
Dandelion (Taraxacum off.) flower buds, leaves, roots
Dill (Anethum graveolens) herb, seeds
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) herb, seeds
Garlic (Allium sativum) bulbs, greens, flowers
Garlic mustard (Alliaria officinalis) leaves and roots
Goldenrod (Solidago sp.) flowers
Ginger (Zingiber off.) and Wild ginger (Asarum canadensis) roots
Lavender (Lavendula sp.) flowers, leaves
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) new growth leaves and roots
Orange mint (Mentha sp.) leaves, stalks
Orange peel, organic only
Peppermint (Mentha piperata and etc.) leaves, stalks
Perilla (Shiso) (Agastache) leaves, stalks
Rosemary (Rosmarinus off.) leaves, stalks
Spearmint (Mentha spicata) leaves, stalks
Thyme (Thymus sp.) leaves, stalks
White pine (Pinus strobus) needles
Yarrow (Achilllea millifolium) flowers and leaves

So what could be easier? Just one new idea to add some nutrients to your diet today.

Copyright © 2008  Kathleen G. Lupole

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Our Summer So Far

This year I have been so busy. My garden is thriving and my husband is getting alot of work done on our house. As much as he can do with his crushed elbow. He does push himself. I on the other hand have been experiencing health problems for the first time in my life that seem to effect my daily living. I had my appendix out in 1982 and a parathyroid, of which you have 4, I had one out in 2002. Other than that, I didn't usually get sick or anything like that in my whole life. This I figure is Menopausal related. So I am kind of limping along. The hot summer does not help when you are also experiencing hot flashes.

Saturday, my sister in-law and her husband came up for the day and brought my husband's father up with them. We had a really nice, relaxing day outside by our outdoor fireplace. We cooked hamburgers and hot dogs on the charcoal grill and I put a pot of baked beans right in the fireplace to cook in my cast iron Dutch oven. They were the hit of the day! My father in-law hadn't been here in a few years, since 2003 or close to that time. My mother in-law's health had gotton bad and she was not able to travel very far, so he hadn't been going anywhere either. He was quite taken back by all the work my husband had done on our place. And as I said above, it is not easy for him to work with his bad arm. He paces himself and does a little and comes back and does some more.

Over 5 years ago, I purchased a cherry tomato from Johnny's Seeds called Matt's Cherry Tomato and it was a heirloom. Well, we loved those little cherry tomatoes! They were so sweet and really tasty. Every year since then they just grow wild around our garden area. And many times they come up in a raised bed somewhere, so they must be in the compost also. This year, I have a spot I didn't see and they are coming up there real strong with a big thick stem and big leaves. This year, I will make sure to save the seeds and have a good supply for future gardens. I believe Johnny's still has them for sale, but the price of seeds is going up.

Yesterday, we went to visit our very close friends who moved here from Texas last year. They are an awesome couple. In this next year or so, they plan on building a earthhouse and they have a beautiful piece of land for that. They gave me a taste of her Stevia plant yesterday and I was familar with it, but had never tasted it or seen it before. It was so sweet! Like sugar. Even my husband loved the taste of it. So I think I will be growing that also. Pretty neat when you can grow your own sweetener, don't you think?

I have been busy designing a website for friends of mine who are going into the solar business online now. They have been in the solar business for 10 years now, but now they cannot keep ignoring the online potential. So I have made them a beautiful site, if I do say so myself. But have had some issues with Domain Direct who was their old server. Today, I am hoping it will all be tranferred to the new one I found for them and then I can get back to work for them on the site. The guy is a solar installer so it just made so much sense for him to sell the panels and equipment too. I will be giving the links for their site soon, but today I am not sure the transfer has been completed. When it is, I will let you know.

I promise I will be back in the next day or so. Tomorrow though, we have to drive to Owego to our church which is about 54 miles from here. We hadn't been able to go since Father's Day and now we have to get there to edit and upload the videos of the sermons on the church site. So we figure we will be gone all day tomorrow as there is about 7 of them to do.

Have a wonderful homesteading day!


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

My husband felt sorry for me working out in the garden and hauling all my stuff around. So he bought me this little is a Neuton Garden Cart. Electric of course, runs with a battery that we can recharge by hooking up to our system. He bought himself the lawnmower and is waiting for that to arrive. So afraid he'll have to use the gas mower one more time before the Neuton gets here! This is along with our goal of being fuel free in five years. I mean fuel we buy, such as propane, gasoline, kerosene, etc. For the last month we have turned off the propane refrigerator and are now saving that money toward two more solar panels and the purchase of the solar refrigeration. It is not easy in this hot weather living without the refrigerator, though we did it back in 2003/2004 for a whole year.

I have been so busy here at Peaceful Forest Homestead with my garden. I am not complaining though, as it is coming up beautiful this year. Probably the best in all the years I have been here. It's a good thing too, as the price of everything in the stores has gone sky high! My friend ordered a 50 pound bag of wheat berries and it was $32. the day she ordered it, but they told her that when she picks it up the next week it would be more and they couldn't tell her how much more........well it was eight dollars more! Eight dollars in a week!

Last year we grew about 250 pounds of potatoes but this year, I am sure we will be way past that amount. And the plants are just thriving. I had planned on a rotation method with my raised beds and was not going to plant the potatoes in the same beds as last year. Well, I didn't plant in those beds at first, but then potatoes started coming up on their own! I guess last year, I left quite a few potatoes behind in those beds when I harvested. So I must have had more than 250 pounds. Since they came up on their own, I just added more seed potatoes in those beds to fill it up. It's ok with us as potatoes is one of our favorite foods around here.

I have been busy also working on designing a solar website for our friends who will be selling solar products as well as doing certified installations. I will post on that in the near future so keep checking back. They have some great things available as well as many incentives for people on or off the grid who would like to go into an alternative energy source lifestyle. I highly recommend it myself!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Growing My Own Food Supply

I am getting emails about stocking up our food supplies. This is what I have been talking about for a long time now. This is what homesteading is all about.......growing all your own food, or at least as much as you can. Taking charge of your own life....independence from other sources. I still have about 15 pounds of potatoes left over from last year's crop sitting in my pantry. Some of them I may plant with my new seed potatoes. Some people just smile at you sweetly when you warn them about planning ahead and doing this. They think that the stores will always be overflowing with food for them. That money will always be available to purchase all the food they want. And most of them purchase process foods which cost more and don't taste that good. My husband is spoiled as he always eats good quality food at home....unprocessed.

I hope that most people will take notice of the store prices to plant their own gardens this year. I just cannot understand why all people do not do this. My own plan is eventually of mostly only eating the food I grow, supplemented with the addition grains and dried grains that I pick up at my local bulk food store. It will the way of our future I am sure. I love to cook and garden so they two go together so that we can live. It is the circle of life.

I am so fortunate here in upstate New York that we have been having such great weather. I have planted 50 strawberry plants in the last week, covering them up with the threat of frost the other night. I filled two stone raised beds that I built myself with all of them. Plus, I have a few assorted stone planters I built that hold 1 single plant each. Filled each of them also. My old dairy sink that I made into a waist high raised bed, every year I fill it with various types of salad greens. I planted that four days ago also. I have been on a roll here since spring really did arrive.

Last week I canned 13 pints of black beans and this week will can 13 more of another kind of bean.......maybe pinto. I seem to have run out of my pint jars, having mostly quarts now. But when I can beans or jams and preserves, I like to use the pint jars. So now I am trying to stock up on those. I bought a dozen yesterday at Dollar General for $7.00. Now I don't know if that is a good price or not as I have never bought jars new before. The girls that worked in the store were quite young, but seemed to really be interested in canning. The girl waiting on me said that her father was going to teach her as the last time she did it, it did not turn out very well. I like to see young girls wanting to learn this art! It gives me hope for the future.

Anyway, people ask me why I can dried beans. The reason is that they are easier to use. Plus the fact that I can just toss them into something at the last moment for a meal. Now I think we will be eating even more beans as they are way cheaper than meat. Plus they are an excellent source of fiber! I find they fill us up and nobody is looking for snacks later. There is such a huge variety between the beans, lentils and peas, though I only can the beans. We love southern food as I grew up in Florida and get to craving that southern style of cooking every now and then. So black-eyed peas is one of my favorites!

My husband has my raised beds all ready for me to plant. I am waiting on the weather for them, as that is where my tomatoes and green beans are going. Have to be sure all signs of cold weather is all gone before I take that chance. My tomato seedlings have been doing outstanding. I cannot wait till they are safely tucked into their own raised beds. I expect to have an awesome crop of vegetables this year to can, to dry and to just store in my root cellar.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Spring Has Sprung!

I love spring time! The birds are singing, the dandelions and tiger lillies are poking their heads out of the wet ground today. The sun is shining, generating my electricity by shining on solar panels most of the day. Wow! What an awesome world God has created. I give all the thanks and glory to him for this day.

I have been spending some time every day now brushing my three horses. They have been shedding for awhile now. Now they are starting to show that sleek, new coat coming in. It is so shiny and new. Of course, spring has them pretty antsy too. They know that the new grass is coming up too. I made sure to check my solar electric fence this morning so nobody gets out accidently leaning over or under looking for those blades of new grass. Good thing I did too! The whole back corner was down, but just the lower line and nobody really wanted to get out anyway. It's all fixed now.

This past week end we had the opportunity to hear The Syracuse Symphony and it was just great. Loved it! I hadn't been to Syracuse in quite some time, and I used to go there pretty regular before. It was like seeing an old friend, though it didn't look much different. When my husband drove a over-the-road truck we used to pick up loads there all the time, as well as drop off pallets. One of my favorite truck stops was the Pilot in Syracuse. More old memories.....good ones too.

I have started some of my tomato seeds and have more to get started. It's hard to get everything done at once. Winter clean up is a big job here because we have LOTS of snow and LOTS of wind. So there is many branches and things to clean up that got buried by snow, not to mention that our garbage can had gotten frozen in all winter and I could not even take the lid off let alone empty it. I'll be doing that tomorrow morning for sure.

Without my big heating woodstove going, I have to keep my seed starts upstairs to get started or it'll be too cold downstairs at night. I cannot see keeping a big woodstove going for them. It gets way too hot during the day for us and we go to bed pretty early so there is not much sense in wasting wood. The wood cook stove warms the kitchen up in the early morning and I can cook breakfast on it then. Then start it for supper and for warmth in the evening.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

An Inspiration To Her Faith

Mom Lupole Playing Her Cowbells

Last year, as my mother in-law was wheeled from her hospital room, down the hall, to the operating room, the orderly wheeling her stopped, "I'm going to let her sit here, and wait for Dr. Anderson. You can wait with her. I'll be back for her."

She had a few minutes to tell her family any last words she had to say, before she underwent the operation to remove one of her legs. Soon, her doctor appeared, dressed in his scrubs.

As her family members all reached out to say their good byes before she was wheeled through the intimidating operating suite doors, her daughter, Pat showed the surgeon her other leg, "Dr. Anderson, look at this leg. It's worse than than the one you are taking off. Can't you take them both off at the same time?"

He reassured us, saying, "It looks worse than it is. But it really isn't. It might come back after the other one is taken off. I'd like to give it a chance." I think, in all realty, he thought, she might not make it through the first operation, let alone a second one, at the same time.

Dad & Mom Lupole in happy times

Her husband for 63 years had tears running down his face, as he tried to say any last words to his best friend and love of his life. It was the only time she shed tears over the ordeal she was about to face, but not for herself, for her husband.

"I love you, Bob," she managed to get out, trying to smile at him.

"I love you too," he answered her back, not knowing if he would lose her today.

My husband, Larry, her son, did not believe she would survive this operation. "How can she make it through this operation when she is diabetic and already in kidney failure?" he asked me.

She suffers, not only from Diabetes, but congested heart failure, has a pacemaker in, and because of the kidney failure, goes to dialysis three times a week. Bad arthritis has also hindered her movement in many ways. Not to mention, her age, of 82 years.

The hospital employees led us to a waiting room that was away from the regular waiting room, as we would have filled that room to capacity! We had many people stopping by all day to see how she was making out. She made it through the operation, and afterwards, we all donned hospital gowns to go in, and say a few words to her. Everybody taking turns.

In May, she was back for the second operation, to take her other leg. But this day, as we sat in her hospital room waiting for the surgeon, with the pastor of the church she was the organist at, she was sick. We felt the surgeon could not get there fast enough. She had gangre, and it appeared to be affecting her whole system. When the surgeon finally came, we felt like running her down the hall ourselves!

I was not brought up in a religious home myself. My parents, both were. But when they had children, they both worked, and I guess it wasn't something they felt was important for us, or had time for. They were good parents, and I am not faulting them for this. But that's just how it was when I was growing up.

When I married my husband, Larry, I knew his family was very religious. Though he wasn't as much, as the rest of his family. His mother, would really grind on me many times about going to church, about accepting Christ as my savior, about reading the Bible, etc. All it did, was to turn me off from it. I was never against it, I did believe in God, and did pray to him when someone was sick, or needed help. But I did not understand there was more to it than that.

My mother in-law is well known around Binghamton, New York, and the surrounding area, as she is a very talented musician. Playing a slew of musical instruments, including the musical saw and the cowbells, as well as the organ and violin. Her notarity comes from having played them for many years in the area nursing homes and churches. She even played the violin in the senior's orchestra. Every year she would win the talent show at the county fair, playing her musical saw, until they asked her not to enter, and give others a chance!

One of the hardest parts for her, has been the fact that she can no longer play her musical instruments. In fact, she had to send her beloved piano and organ to her daughter, Pat's house, so she could come home, and use her dining room for her bedroom. She thought she'd be able to come home, and do all the knitting, crocheting and needlepoint she never had time to do. But even that was not to be, as her finger on her right hand has arthritis so badly, that she can't even do that. She has to be satisfied sewing on her sewing machine and reading. Her son, Ken, who lives with his parents, has taken over most of the care of their home and his mother. He keeps the house running smoothly!

Wouldn't you think she would be very depressed? Nope, not my mother in-law! She's not depressed at all. I mean, she was a woman on the go! She used to go places and do things all the time. Now, she can only go to church rarely, as it is so much work to get her ready to go somewhere. I asked her recently, if she has depressing moments, and she said no, she does not.

I believe her. You see, her husband, Bob, her close knit family, and her faith in God has seen her through this. She has a real enthusiasm for life and the Lord. I found myself, seeing her as an inspiration to me. She made me question myself on where I stand with God, and what I want my life to be. I started reading the books written by Norman Vincent Peale, and reading them to my husband.

I marveled at her strength to be able to accept what she has gone through. Her faith is the cornerstone of her ability to live with complete dependence on others. She feels that she is lucky to be alive, and yes, she misses her legs and to be able to move around freely, but she is thankful for what she has. Her family and her faith.

Heart of God in Owego, NY.

My husband, Larry and I went to church for the first time together on Easter Sunday this year. We read the Bible every day together now. I have accepted the Lord as my savior, and want to live my life by following the Bible. I have also found that other areas of my life have improved at the same time. It must be my positive thinking!

Only a few months ago I had a conversation with her that ended with me telling her that nothing or no one would ever change my mind about following the Lord, and she said she was so glad to hear me say that. I believe that my mother in-law was instrumental in bringing me to becoming a real Christian, and wanting to learn more. I now feel that same enthusiasm, that she has always had!

As I am writing this now, she is in a hospital room waiting for her 84th birthday on January 13th, hoping to live to share that final birthday with her beloved husband, Bob. Yesterday, as my husband and I went to visit her there, she was surrounded by her family, and even though on heavy pain medication she shared a happy day with us all. Her granddaughter was there with her family, her husband and their eight children, and they sang the most beautiful song to her. I know that made her so happy, as her heart is in music. She listened intently to their singing, as the oldest was only 8! Not one was off key, as my husband, a musician also, told me later.

She did live to see her birthday and her son, Ken brought a beautiful cake for his parents' birthday. You see not only did they share 65 years of marriage, but also the same birthday four years apart. Her hospital room was kept pretty full that day as her sister in-laws and grandson and his family joined the rest of us there.

On January 17th, she went home to be with the Lord. Her death was a very profound experience with me. I have worked in the health care field and am very familiar with death and the dying process. But her death was like no other. She was watching someone or something on the ceiling. Her eyes were moving back and forth quite a bit. She even looked clearly toward the window, as if watching something. I do not think she could see the snowflakes coming down....but she was definitely seeing something or someone.

Everyone seemed to think she was in pain, but I do not think that was the case. I think she was in the transition period. I mean, here is a woman who had no strength to lift her hand to scratch her face, yet she was raising both of her arms up, as if toward someone up above! Even as she died, she was a testimony to her strong faith and love of God. I will never forget her or the wonderful things she taught me.....or tried to teach me. There is no doubt in my mind that I will see her again.

Copyright © 2010 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2010 Kathleen G. Lupole
Updated: August 2016

Monday, February 25, 2008

Our Horses, Georgie Girl and Dark Shadow

Georgie Girl, Boss Mare

I love this little girl so much. I cannot explain to anyone how much this horse means to me. She is my pride and joy. She is an ex-racehorse, banned from the Finger Lakes track as she refused to race. She was the fastest in all the breezes and the track people thought she should have been a perfect racehorse. But on race day, she went over twice in the starting gate with the jockey (I am sure, he beat her for that one!). Then she would lag behind 50 horse lengths. I cleaned stalls to get her.

My brother Mickey on Dusty

I wanted a horse my whole life. Then when we grew up, Mickey, my brother, always had one. I lived where I couldn't have one. So I never really was around them too much. Then when Larry and I got together, he had grown up with horses, and worked around them now and then. When we moved out here, he started training and caring for horses at a local farm, where they raised Thoroughbreds for racing. He took me to work with him and I fell in love with the horses there.

The Farm Our Horses Were Born At

Georgie Girl, especially, won my heart. She would pace in circles in her stall. The stall gate was covered so she couldn't look out. She was not friendly at all. Very high strung. I just took a liking to her. She had been their darling. She was the perfect racehorse, even the people at the track thought so. She was the fastest in the breezes, no other horse could catch her! She did not want to be a racehorse. She would show them how fast she could go, but the day of the races, a few times, she went over in the starting gate. Then when she actually did race, she'd lag, way back. The jockey could beat her with his crop, she didn't care. One thing, I have learned about her, is that she likes to be your partner - not your slave. And she is very smart. She doesn't "give" to anyone easily.

Dark Shadow

At the barn where Georgie Girl lived, she and all the other racehorses were only allowed to be outside for about 15 minutes every day in a covered arena, while their stalls were being cleaned. They would race around and play. All of them got to be in there with another horse. Only Dark Shadow, who my husband ended up buying, was made to be alone in the arena. She could not stand it and would whinny at the top of her lungs and race full tilt around that arena like a crazy horse. She was never worked with or even had feet trimmed. Everyone was afraid of her. At that time, she was only 3 years old. When I first went there, I thought she was the stallion. She acted like one.

Dark Shadow
Larry made friends with her. He got on her and she went over twice with him. He doesn't get thrown off a horse normally, he usually goes down with them. If they rear up with someone on them, many times they will lose their balance and it'll cause them to go over sideways. He did manage to talk his boss into letting her go out in the pasture with the "wild horses" (as we called them). They were not wild (my Tawny was one of them), but horses that were not used for racing so they could go out on the 50 acres that was fenced on their hill. The first week Dark Shadow went out there, Sally, the lead mare (and my Tawny's sister) just ran her down for the whole week. Dark Shadow went into that little herd of 10 horses like gangbusters! She wanted to run, and Sally did not let up on her. By the end of the week, Dark Shadow was friends with Sally and pretty tamed down. That's how it is for a new horse joining a herd. They have rules!

Georgie Girl and Larry

When the owner offered to sell me Georgie I could not believe it. Then one day he came to me and told me since she is now my horse, I can let her out with the wild horses that are out all day, if I wanted. He warned me that she might get burdocks on her if she did though. Larry and I looked at each other for half a second then ran to her stall to get her! She walked along with Larry like she was a little girl going somewhere......or she thought he was making a mistake and she didn't want him to know!

Georgie and Dark Shadow

Larry led her out to the group of other horses waiting to go out for the day in the pasture. They all smelled her, as they might live on the same farm, even in the same barn.....but they did not know her as the racehorses are kept separate. So she just walked along with them in the group and they seem to have accepted her. I was a little worried about her as she was the newest member of the herd......and in the horse herd that means she was on the bottom. And she was not used to being with others in a group like that.
Georgie, Tawny and Dark Shadow

So a few days later, I saw Sally, the boss mare and she seemed to be pushing my Georgie! I did not like that but there was nothing I could do if I wanted her out in the pasture with the others. She had to learn to take care of herself. But I worried about her after that.A bout a week later, the wild horses gathered in the paddock in front of the trail to the pasture and did not go straight up it. Usually when that would happen, I would take a hold of Sally's halter and lead her and the rest would follow, as she was their leader. I took a hold of her, and led her......nobody followed! ???? I looked at the rest of them and didn't know what to think. Georgie looked at me, then walked straight up past me.....and the rest just fell into place behind her................ My worrying had been for Georgie Girl had taken over the herd! She was now their leader!

Copyright © 2008 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2008 Kathleen G. Lupole
Updated 2018