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!