Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Finding Our Homestead In The Woods

Most people who have never been to New York state associate the rest of the state with New York City. Many times they think we haven't even seen a cow or a tree! New York state is a big dairy state and has lots of farmland all over the whole state. New York City actually makes up a very small part of the state as a whole. New York state also has acres and acres of state forest and state parks. Trees and mountains make up much of our Empire state. I always thought we should have been called the Forest State! I have traveled all over the whole country and believe me have not seen such a welcoming site as the green mountains of Pennsylvania and New York! Taxes may be high but we get plenty of rain and our beautiful forests in return.

Our Peaceful Forest Homestead is in the middle of the state forest in upstate New York. Our only neighbors, besides the wild kind are hunting camps. Our home was originally a farm and in 1924 became a hunting camp also until we purchased it in 1999. The house is what is called a Greek Revival style house and was built in 1850. In fact, when my husband was working on digging out a room connected to our cellar, he found a 1848 penny! My treasure! It may have belonged to the smart man who built our home and I have wondered about him many times through out our years here.

Our small piece of land is totally surrounded by the state forest and that means many large trees. The forest is very thick and every now and then it is logged to thin it out. At first we didn't like it when they did that but now we see the value of it and we have done that on our land ourselves. The woods came right up to our house and had to be cleared for gardens. All the roads leading to our house are dirt but are well taken care of. Our road looks to me like a trail through the woods. Sometimes the grass grows in the middle of it and I like that. The forest keeps it cool out here so when everyone else is sweating the summer weather, our home is usually about 10 degrees cooler.

We had searched for over four years for our place. Both of us loved the forest and used to drive through state forest in both New York and Pennsylvania. We would see homes in the middle of the state forest and say, "How did they get a house in the middle of the state forest?" Now people ask me that question! My answer is "Keep searching!" They are out there.

At first, I did not realize that the house was off the grid. Then I did not realize from looking at the listing that it did not have plumbing. No running water! No bathroom! It had an outhouse quite a distance from the house though. Before we moved here we purchased a claw foot bath tub (deep!) and a SunMar composting toliet. The bath tub my husband found at an antique store when he was out driving a truck for his company making deliveries. He stopped and put a deposit on it. Exactly what we wanted! The SunMar I found in our local Pennysaver for sale used for $200. I called about it and they said someone else had called and whoever got there first with the money could have it. We drove right there and came home with our new composting toilet.


The day we moved in we found out that the previous owners had left all their funiture in the house and we had a moving van full of our stuff which would not fit with their stuff. Plus, it was in the middle of a downpour that we moved in. My son, Jeffrey helped us and stayed with us for a few weeks which was a big help. We had to unload the van and take it back the next day so he had to put our things in the house with all that excess of stuff. Not an easy job! So the first thing after returning the truck was to haul things to do the dump that we had to pay for! Not what we were expecting to do.

Copyright © 2009  Kathleen G. Lupole

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Colder Days Coming At Peaceful Forest

First of December and we are having a little bit of snow this morning. Just a gentle snowfall. It means our ground will be freezing and our horses will be very happy about that. Up till now, they have been walking in deep mud in their paddock. Once their ground freezes up and they smooth it out they will be set for the winter. Winter is their favorite time. They run around like fillies once it snows and the paddock is covered. Funny how animals can enjoy the simple things in life. Of course, we have to constantly be doing chores in snow or driving in it or keeping warm in it, etc.. Completely different for us as for them.

What pleases me about the freezing of the ground is that I will be able to store more food in my pantry due to the colder temperatures. Living without refrigeration makes me have to rely on either buying ice or using cold water from our well to keep foods cold. Usually we buy meat and eat it pretty fast like in one day or I can it. In the winter, I can store food for unlimited time periods. My pantry has a door going right down to my cellar and at the moment it is still open due to the work being done on it. It has kept my pantry colder than usual, but more like refrigerator temps.

We have decided to buy a crosscut saw for getting firewood. Buying gas and having the fumes in your face when using it is two things we really need to eliminate. We have been so happy with the purchase of our Neuton electric lawn mower and garden cart that anything we can do to rid ourselves of the need for gasoline is well worth it. As for me, I cannot cut a tree down, but I can cut small ones with a hand saw. So I am thinking of getting a couple of other types of hand saws that I can use easily.

We have never owned or used a rototiller for our garden. In 2002 when my husband was in a bad work related accident and could not plow up our garden, a coworker brought his rototiller over to plow it for us. Nice gesture. But taught me one thing.....I did not want to use one for my garden. You get all those fumes in your face when you are using it. Not what I had in my mind when putting in a garden. Now we only use our raised beds and no plowing needed.

In our kitchen most of our tools are the manual type. You will not find a microwave or an electric can opener here. I love my toaster that is just placed over the burner on the stove for toasting bread. Works quickly and is very dependable if you keep an eye on it. I think the way I do things would not appeal to most people as it is too slow or too much effort. Our society is based on people who are in a hurry.............for what I do not know. I like to enjoy what I am doing while I am doing it. It makes the process relaxing and satisfying. Maybe that is why I do not resent the work we have to do around here. It doesn't seem to be that much work unless someone else is here helping us and they say how hard it is. Then we say, "oh yeah, right. It is harder than using a machine."

I look forward to the day that all those jobs are easier, but that is not to say I am in a hurry to get things done. I have always enjoyed the time my husband spent out in the woods getting firewood. He would cut the tree down and cut the wood and I would transport it to the house. If it needed splitting, I would only take it as far as the wood pile. We have a routine we follow and that seems to make the jobs so much easier. Sometime daily, I have to get outside or to the barn for a breath of air so spending time out in the woods is the most relaxing thing for me to do. It is soothing to me.

When our house is finished it will be set up for easy living for us and that is what our aim is as we get older. Raised beds for food, easy access to the root cellar from outside or the pantry, easy to maintain the energy system and as our system increases we will barely have to run the electric start generator. Our biggest job will be caring for our horses and shoveling snow.

Have a wonderful December day and I will be back tomorrow.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Presents That Are Useful

Planning for Christmas this year is going to tricky for many people due to our economy. I have always had a tight budget at Christmas time for some reason anyway. So it is nothing new to me. My husband and I have always had a low keyed Christmas. When we need or want something we usually just buy it then not wait for Christmas. Our Christmas is usually centered around the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ and a dinner to celebrate it. So I make our food the focus not presents.

I am thinking of good, practical Christmas presents that would be good for people to give to family and friends in these times. I see all the people rushing to the stores buying those gift boxed things they assemble for customers. They are the type of gift you hate to see under the tree! A cheap knick-knack with some tea bags and candy in a big box with lots of packaging. I hate those types of gifts!!! They are so wasteful. I have come up with great alternatives though. How about these:

A basket (that could be used for the garden) filled with bars of soap, disposable razors, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, chap stick, and body brush or a couple of colorful wash cloths.

A stainless steel mixing bowl with a bottle of pure vanilla, a few packages of various seasonings (buy them in bulk at a Mennonite or Amish bulk foods store and split up for a number of gifts), a jar of Pumpkin or Apple butter, a bag of nuts, baking powder, sugar and a wooden spoon.

A bigger gift for your grown children who live away from home:
A new garbage can filled with household cleaners, paper products, maybe some canned foods, drugstore items, etc. I could easily fill one of them up with products they need or brands they'd like but can't afford.

For the typical homesteader a great gift could be a box of some home canned foods or something you make like soap or a crocheted or knitted hat, mittens and/or a sweater. Maybe some of each!

A tool box filled with some hand tools that are essential for fixing things, like a hammer, pliers, wrenches in different sizes, a utility knife, an awl, a level, measuring tape and some sandpaper.

For a guitar player on your list how about some guitar strings, picks, a guitar strap, sheet music or music book and maybe a battery powered guitar tuner in a new guitar case.

How about going to a local thrift store and filling a box with children's clothing for a family with more than a couple of children? My thrift store has beautiful clothing and if I was a mother now (I am a mother but my son is grown) I'd welcome a gift like that. If all they want is brand new name brands........then something is wrong with them! Wake up I'd tell them! This is the real!

Believe me some people would rather receive a big package of toilet paper or paper towels wrapped up! One year we gave my mother-in-law a big 50 lb. bag of bird feed. She loved it! Kept trying to figure out what was in that present. Or how about a ream of paper for a printer or ink cartridges for the printer? Things people have to buy no matter what. A case of oil, windshield washer fluid, items you keep in your medicine chest, etc. It is fun when you get to thinking about it. A load of firewood is a good gift for someone with a wood stove. I'd love that myself!

Keep these ideas in mind when you are tempted to buy one of those over priced presents this year.

Friday, November 20, 2009

What Has Been Happening Lately

We have been so busy this year that I have barely had time to think about writing on here. I have been working for weeks on writing a top notch business plan for my business. I am closing my original business, Peaceful Forest in a couple of weeks. Right now I am just waiting for the paper work to come back from NY state for my new one which is KG Lupole LLC. I am very excited about this as it is proof that my guitar strings store is taking off.....finally! I am planning on meeting with a representative from SCORE. That is a national organization that is made up of retired business people in your community or online, who will assist you in any aspect of setting up or working on your business. From planning it, writing your business plan, getting financing to the actual day to day work of running it. All for no cost. They will mentor you and you can ask questions. I have also been building up my inventory of Curt Mangan guitar strings. In the future I hope to add a few more other brands of strings to give my customers a choice of brands. Have to do it like I do everything, little by little.

Having a business that I can run from my home is a big part of my homesteading lifestyle. Not having to drive to and from a business in town is perfect for the homesteader. I can work on my websites and then run out and work in my garden, kitchen or wherever. Some days, I just run out to my barn and brush my little girls, who's picture is posted above. Horse need attention and when I worked out in the J.O.B. (just above broke) world I had barely enough time to pet one of them let alone a meaningful brushing session!

I am still following my low carb eating plan. Mainly Dr. Atkins' famous plan. It is famous I guess because it really does work. The best thing about it though is that not only do you lose weight on it but you feel so much better. I think it may be the elimination of white flour products, sugar and anything processed. Once they are out of your system you start to feel so much better.

One of the main things us homesteaders do is to build up a storage of our food and supplies in case of any kind of emergency. Food storage proved to be a blessing to us when my husband was in a bad accident at work and we had no money coming in. We ate from our awesome food storage that I had built up from our garden over a period of a few years. When money is tight you can still eat.

Now though, I have changed the type of foods I store to low carb foods. For me, storing beans, rice, white flour and sugar is not something I will be doing. Granted many of the foods I eat now are organic like almond meal, coconut flour, flax seed meal, etc. Those foods cannot be stored for long periods as far as I know right now. So I have to do a little more research in how to do that. I could store almonds by canning them and then when I need the almond meal, grind them. For now though, I like buying Bob's Almond Meal for the convenience and high quality. I do not plan on relying on a freezer to store any foods for storage. As if for any reason your power does go down or your freezer malfunctions you lose all your food unless you can it. In an emergency though, you would not be canning it.

Have a great homesteading today!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Kingdom F.E.S.T. In Owego, NY

I am so proud of my husband Larry. This weekend he performed at the Kingdom F.E.S.T. in Owego, NY at the Abide In The Vine Fellowship. It was a day of worshiping our Savior, Christ Jesus through music. Many different musicians and bands took part. A group of people from our church came to hear him, as did his sister, Pat and her husband Tim. After it was over we met Pat and Tim at my father-in-law's house where Larry's brother, Ken also lives. So it was a perfect ending to a perfect day. His father is 89 and is in the process of losing his sight as well as his hearing and is not able to go to an event like that. He was very proud of him though. I believe his mother was with him in spirit. She wuld have been so proud of him and this is what she wanted for him to do. Kind of like following in her footsteps......

The weather wasn't great and that may have kept many people from attending. The children who were there had a wonderful time with the Christian Clowns who put on a very funny skit. They were dressed so colorful and really caught your eye.

I loved the Abide In The Vine Dance Team! They were awesome! The lights were turned down low and they flowed.....they danced. So graceful and peaceful........really enjoyed this. I think they must do this every Sunday at Abide In The Vine Fellowship.

Tammy Gendron did a wonderful job of putting this whole thing together. She did not do it alone, but I do not know everyone who helped her. This was the second one that has taken place. We will hopefully be part of it again next year.

We have been getting a lot of rain for the last few days here. Fall almost always brings us that cold rainy weather. Our horses hate that but are looking forward to the snow......which my husband is not. Winter is pretty tough here and many times lately we have thought of alternatives for this coming season.

Have a good homesteading day and hope your day is very blessed!


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Autumn In New York

Here are some photos I have taken with my new camera showing the coming of fall here in upstate NY. Our trees are turning color fast as well as dropping leaves. It is a pretty time but it is also a warning that we better get prepared for winter.

Yesterday was my husband's birthday and the first day of Autumn. This is a photo of our paddock in the early morning when we were having our coffee. A cool day here in NY but not unpleasant. And not cool enough to need a woodstove fired up. We always joke that we close the stove down near my birthday in late June and start it up around his birthday. Not quite. But pretty close most years.

In fact, our winter visitors, the Conifer bugs are already back from the forest and are trying to find their way into the house to sleep for the winter. I wouldn't mind these bugs so much but would rather they find some other place to hold up for their winter sleep. I never could understand why these bugs want to live in a house anyway. Aren't they supposed to be outside? They are also known as "stink bugs" as soon as they know you are looking at them they start to stink. Sometimes we do not even know they are around but they tell on themselves with that smell and we start searching for that little stinker!

This Saturday my husband will be performing at the Kingdom F.E.S.T. in Owego, NY at the Abide In The Vine Fellowship at 1277 Taylor Road. He will be playing in the gymnasium at 3:00 PM and will be playing songs that he as written. They are really awesome....very moving. His mother would have been so proud of him and I think she will be there in spirit with him. Most of his family is musical and it came from her.

Today we will be going to my friend's new home that is only four miles from here for a birthday lunch for my husband. She is a spinner and will be bringing her horse there in October and then later her goats, sheep and rabbits. She milks the goats and makes cheese and yogurt with the milk and maybe some soap. The sheep and Angora rabbits she spins their fiber. None of her animals are for meat. And she will not sell them for meat either. It is nice to have a friend close by. She got a good deal on a huge house with a small barn and just enough land for her little flock and her Haflinger horse. Has a real nice woodstove right in the center of a large living room - kitchen area with straight pipe all the way. That's the best!

Enjoy your nice Autumn Day!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Do You Already Have The Perfect Homestead?

Over the ten years that I have been living here at Peaceful Forest I have met many people who are always looking for a perfect homestead. Many of these same people seem to think that my homestead is just perfect. It is not. It never was perfect. There is no such place. You can make any place into a homestead and in time, it may even become perfect.

Peaceful Forest was an old farm house that was built in 1850 in a little development around the Ludlow Creek. There was a saw mill along the creek and from the old foundations in this area it was a thriving community. I can just picture the various families in their buggies, on horseback and people traveling by foot passing by this house on their way to Oxford.

When we purchased our house it was being advertised as a snowmobile camp as the roads surrounding it are designated as snowmobile trails. It had been used as hunting camp though since 1924. We wrote up an offer and it was accepted and here we are. Since it is off the grid, most people were not interested in it unless it was for a vacation or hunting camp. The house needed a lot of work and the woods came right up the house almost.

A perfect homestead can be made from any house or property. It just takes time and patience and of course, money. And...oh did I forget to mention hard work? Lots of hard work! As I said the woods came right up to our house and needed clearing. My husband cleared our entire yard and paddock and garden area by himself with no heavy equipment. Just him and his chainsaw. In 2000 we had a pretty bad tornado that assisted in that job. It is only recently that all that wood has finally been used up. It kept us in firewood for all those years!

It is important in the beginning to know what kind of homestead do you want? Will it be centered around a garden? Livestock? Now livestock is the real challenge. They need housing, fencing, most need pasture or a turn out area. We have three horses but have no pasture. They have a paddock area that is quite large and grass is starting to grow there. In the beginning it was much smaller and over the years we have cleared more and more and moved the fence to accomodate it. We have no livestock for food but if you want that you need to make sure you have it all in place before you bring your first animal home. Nothing is worse than not having a place for those animals while you are building what they need.

We have decided we really don't want any more animals than what we have. Our goal is to eventually not have any so we can go to Florida during the winter. It depends on what your plans are. For us the garden is the big thing. We have been working on remodeling the root cellar, pantry and kitchen. That is where a good share of our food comes from. The next big thing for us is our alternative power source which right now is only the solar panels and our generator. So our property has to accomodate that. Another major interest for me is the wild plants and the forest. So that is where I focus much of my energy.

You just need to take stock of your present home and see what changes you would need to make it a homestead centered around your homesteading goals. Make a list and then work from that. What do you wish you could do on your homestead that you can't do now? Then figure out what it would take to do that. Save the money up for those projects. Sometimes people put their lives on hold waiting for something to change.......sometimes that causes them to miss out on their dream. So stop wasting time waiting for that day and start making those changes right now.

Moving from place to place looking for your perfect homestead costs a lot of money. Just think if you were putting all that moving expense money into your present home how far you could. Other places always look better than what you have unless you get to work on it immediately. Do little things and it will add up. One day you will think to yourself that you have found the perfect homestead already!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Harvesting Red Clover

Yesterday, I harvested for the third time a good amount of red clover (Trifolium pratense). I have it growing in the raised bed that I previously had garlic growing in. It must be a good year for it as there is an abundance of it. I have always harvested it around here but not quite this much. My tin for it is not as big as I need now so I am having to get another one that is much bigger. We drink Red Clover infusions pretty much all year long. Not every single day.....but on a regular basis.

This is my Red Clover patch that is growing in one of my raised beds out back. Yesterday I harvested more Red Clover. Every time I tried to cut the flowers this big ole bumble bee would start working in that area. One time he got on a flower and I really don't know what he was doing to it....... I don't think I want to know! He was doing something and I went to get my camera but when I came back he had left and didn't come back.

According Susun Weed's New Menopausal Years - The Wise Woman Way:

"Use Red Clover before and during your menopausal years to:

Keep yourself hormonally fit.
Reverse premature menopause.
Improve your chances of having a child after age 40.
Moderate the intensity of your hot flashes.
Prevent and reverse breast cancer.
Improve memory, clear confusion, increase energy.
Ease your anxiety.
Relieve muscle and joint pain, diminish headaches.
Keep your skin supple and healthy.
Increase vaginal lubrication.
Ease incontinecne, relieve cystitis.
Prevent Osteoporosis.
Prevent strokes."

As with any herbal remedy try a little at first and increase. Take in moderation. I like to use different ones for variety and heal and soothe all parts. That way you are not taking huge amounts of one thing that could cause a problem. The only thing I drink every single day is my Essiac tea. My husband does too. It gives us a peace of mind.

If you have cut back on your soy use due to it's "black side", as Susun Weed calls it. Try the Red Clover instead. It provides all the benefits soy does but with none of the bad stuff. Instead of leaching the minerals from your bones red clover gives generously to your bone's health. Red clover also helps to normalize your thyroid and it is a known fact that Red clover prevents and works against breast cancer. Plus it contains more active phytoestrogens in greater quanity than soy. So what would you rather be using? Soy or Red Clover? Easy answer for me.

Clinical studies and double blind tests have not been done and are therefore not endorsed by the FDA. Information provided is for educational and experimental purposes only and my opinion only. If you have any questions, please consult your physician

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Canning Again

I canned 19 pints of corn yesterday and this morning. I love canning and even though it seems like a lot of work when you are cleaning your vegetables or cutting the meat up it is well worth it. It is kinda like childbirth......later you forget about the work and are glad and proud you did it. I don't eat corn anymore due to it being a high carb food. My husband likes it though so I like to have it in the pantry for him. I also can beets and carrots for him and they too, are high carb vegetables. I might grab a serving of one of them from time to time but not too often.

The last week here including yesterday I have been harvesting herbs that I grow. Right now I have sage, parsley (both kinds), oregano, lemon balm and red clover. It smells so good! You wouldn't believe how great it smells compared to store bought. I usually buy my spices and herbs at my local Mennonite market, Pine Ridge in Bainbridge, NY. It is fresher than the grocery stores and sold in bulk so it is less money. But believe me....nothing compares to growing and drying your own.

The time I spend canning our food is some of my favorite time. I feel like every jar is valuable. When we first moved here I already had hundreds of jars from our previous garden. So when my husband was in a very bad work related accident and we had no money coming in at first, we still had lots of food.

The difference between canning your foods and freezing your foods is that your canned foods last indefinitely. If you keep those canned jars clean and dry - especially dry, they will keep for years. I am very familar with freezing foods also, as for years that is what I did in my previous life. I am also very familar with throwing foods out with freezer burn or trying to find something in the freezer that is not there or that became unwrapped. I never have enjoyed my vegetables with ice crystals on them. Know what I mean?

Another aspect of canning is that you never have to worry about losing your food if you have power outages for a period of time. I hear so many people say that if that happens they will just can all the frozen foods! LOL Now come on! If you are in the middle of some disaster or something like that do you really think you will start thawing the food out to can it? Canning is a process that must be done strictly by the rules to make sure nobody gets sick from your canned foods. I don't think if I was in the middle of a major emergency such as hurricane, wild fires, blizzard or whatever that I would want to start canning my food. I can't even be on my computer or do much else in the middle of canning. My foods are canned and ready to eat, no fussing just warm them up. Perfect in emergency times.

As far as tasting good.....believe me that my husband is a very critical eater. He loves my canned foods as do I. We love the canned meats as they make my time in the kitchen when preparing our meals so much easier. Plus you know what you put in each jar. I look for foods without sugar and it's relatives and they are hard to find these days. I look for foods without words I cannot pronounce. Or for foods with ingredients that I know exactly what those ingredients are. Since I follow a low carb eating plan this is a very critical point for is a matter of my health.

Have a great day!


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Frugal Planning Revisited

I have not stuck to my plan on frugal shopping this summer. When I added up all the money I spent in the grocery store this month I was embarrassed! So as of yesterday I am being very careful. I believe it has to do with the fact that everything is costing so much more. Plus the fact that I follow a low carb diet and that means meat.......not pasta, not potatoes, not bread or biscuits and especially no rice and beans! Those are the foods you eat when you are frugal and they do fill you up. But for me they are not healthy at all. If I eat one of those foods......I am sick and not able to do what I have got to do. I hate that feeling.

So back to my original plan. Can more beef, more turkey, chicken, pork , sausage and of course hamburger. Trouble is that we eat it almost as soon as we have it canned. And it is so good. But if you are trying to stock up food for the winter, then you can't can it and then eat it. You have to have extra money for that. Right! Like everyone has that extra money just laying around these days. You have to find a way to earn some extra or sell something to give you that little bit of extra each week. Then go to the store and buy what you want to can that week.

I try to figure 1 jar per week for each item. So that can add up to a lot of canning! Fifty-two weeks in a year and that is my aim to can at least that many of each item. Though vegetables and some meats such as hamburger and chicken will be double that amount. We do tend to have more than one meal of those each week.

My root cellar will be where I keep my fresh produce stored. I am making wooden boxes with metal screen covering it. That way the produce will have the air circulation but rodents will not be able to chew their way into it. I do seem to have more than my share of them. I have never figured out why they get into my house, cellar and pantry as they never get into our actual food. Only the cat or especially dog food. I will find it hidden in places and I never even realized they were getting into it.

Anyway, this frugal eating business takes work. It is possible to live very well in this economy but you have to be smart about it. Do not give in to the temptations that are around us or that promise that easy life or easy meal. Usually what you make from scratch is much better health wise as well as taste wise too.

Have a great homesteading day!

Copyright © 2009  Kathleen G. Lupole

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Working On Our House

Our house with trees on it!

Our house was built in 1850 and the man who built it did an excellent job. When we had a tornado hit us in 2000 six trees fell on our roof. My husband and I were in the kitchen and did not even know that at the time. We were watching our poor horses out there in the paddock with huge trees falling around them like matchsticks. It wasn't until it was over that we went outside and found the trees on the house. Didn't even hurt the roof except for the ridge cap. When I think of that man digging out that cellar and then he built up the area around it into a hill so the water runs off. We have never had water in our root cellar yet.

Last year and this we have replaced two parts of our old tin roof. It was in bad shape and needed to be done. The parts we haven't done yet are mostly due to the fact are changing some other areas of the house and the roof will be affected. Don't want to put new roofing up there just to tear it down later. My husband has made so much progress this year on improving our house. I am quite happy!

Soon our battery room will be finished. It is going to be connected to the cellar and have our 24 locomotive batteries in it on shelves. Right now they are sitting on my living room floor. Will I be happy to have them off our floor and downstairs! This room will also be home for water pump, water tank and our generator. My smart husband is building a platform for our generator which will raise up out of the cellar so he can run the generator outside. When he is done with it he can lower it back inside. That will keep it safe from thief or storms. He will also be able to work on from its platform and not have to get down on the ground to do that. Very brilliant idea if you ask me!

The battery room is separated from the root cellar with a cinder block wall and a door. We do not want to change the environment of our root cellar. We will be putting new energy efficient cellar windows in the root cellar so we can open them easily. I need to be able to vent the cellar during the night to bring cool air inside for the hot days of summer. Then during the day for the time being I can open the door to the pantry letting cool air in there to keep it cool. Eventually we will have a built in vent in the floor of the pantry that can be opened and closed as needed.

The ceiling of the battery room for this year will just be our new porch since my husband took our whole porch off thr front of the house. We are using our sliding glass door at the side of the kitchen to go in and out for now. Our cats and dog, Nikita are really having issues with that change! The cats still after all this time, keep going to the regular door. We are keeping it locked for our own safety as both of us have gone to that door without thinking when we are in a hurry.

Next year, the porch will become part of the kitchen. That will increase the size of our kitchen so much. Then we can finally add our Sundanzer refrigerator and freezer units. They will make our life really nice and so much easier. Of course, we have to buy at the very least one more solar panel but hopefully we will be able to get two more. In doing this the front of our house will be different. The front door will be on the side and you will come into a mud room first. There you can hang your coat and take off your boots. It will also help us keep our warm air in the house in the winter and a buffer zone for the flys and bugs trying to get in during the summer.....a constant battle around here!

So here we are living in the middle of this huge remodeling project. After ten years of living here everything else just falls into place. Routines. Living without grid electric is no big deal and I never even think about it unless someone else mentions it to me. I like not having to pay someone for using my own stuff!

Have a great homesteading day! Looks great here at Peaceful Forest Homestead!


Sunday, August 09, 2009

A Rainy Sunday At Peaceful Forest

Today we are getting a little rain. Gentle which is good for me because the last few days I have replanted some of my raised beds for my fall garden. I have been harvesting my potatoes, garlic and some green beans. So I have some open areas and not to mention the beds that had tomatoes that were hit by the blight. I planted collards, winter spinach, kale and several kinds of radishes. These seeds I have for this garden I purchased from The Catholic Homesteading Movement. Their seeds are usually very good and are especially suited for my area as they are not far from our homestead.

Since I am trying to change my house over to a low carb house......not easy with my husband being such a big eater.....hard for him to forego his bread and sweets. Having greens available in the fall and some of the winter would be a big plus for us. I know that I can find a way to access my greens in my raised beds if I cover them up for the eventual cold weather and snowfall. When our house project in the cellar is finished it should be easy to store all of our other produce down there. I plan on using wooden boxes covered with metal screen to protect them from the never ending population of mice we have around here.

I have recently spent much time canning cheese. It came out so good that I think I will always do this. Saves so much space and when we finally have our Sundanzer refrigerator and freezer I won't have to take up the precious space. The cheese I think I can do better than the recipe I used. Next time I plan on melting the blocks of cheese in one big pot instead of doing little bits of cheese in the jars. That was the most difficult part. Next time I do this I will be able to post pictures as I have a new digital camera coming! Can't wait!

Have a great day!
Copyright © 2009  Kathleen G. Lupole

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Old Fashioned Or New Technology?

Our house in 1999

I have been amiss in writing on this blog since May of this year. I have been really working on my home-based business and that includes my website Solar Baby. For that site I have been detailing my own efforts at building our alternative energy system. Since it is a fairly technical subject it takes more research on my part. Making a living from home isn't as simple as putting a website up and watching it bring the money in. I wish it was!!

Our home in St. Petersburg, FL in 1994

Recently I have connected with a friend that I lost contact with. Her and her husband were featured in a magazine that my husband and I read. The article was about the best places to live to run a home-based business and they were featured in the St. Petersburg, FL section. We ended up meeting them and moving there only to find out that Florida was not the best place for a home-based business. So both of us ended up working in the fast paced Home Shopping Network. It was not really for us as our hearts were still in running our own home-based business. That was many years ago and now when I recount to my friend how our lives have changed.....I am amazed!

Front yard now!

Living on our off-the-grid homestead in the middle of the state forest to so many people seems that we are trying to live old fashioned or before technology. But that is not the case at all! We are of the future. Using some of the old ways and many more of the new. Very many of the old ways have helped us get to where we are today by sacrificing. Such as:

  • I have been washing my laundry by hand for over ten years now.......not many people would be willing to do that today. As soon as our water is brought into the house, I will be using my brand new washing machine that is waiting to go into action. Can't wait!

  • My husband completely built our two story barn with manual hand tools, with the exception of his chainsaw for cutting the boards.

  • He has even used a scythe for cutting our lawn......did not like it at all, but he did it for one whole summer. He still uses it for cutting down growth in our paddock (our horses are so fussy they will not eat everything that grows out there!). He now uses a Neuton electric lawn mower and does not cost us one cent as we charge it with our own solar system.

  • We used kerosene lamps for most of the time we have lived one time we had 14 of them and lit them every night. Two were lanterns that hung outside and my husband used one for going out to the barn to give the horses their night hay. Our light usage now is free as we have lights in our kitchen that turn on with a normal switch and really light up the kitchen.

  • We still carry in our water from the hand-dug well which is pumped by a pitcher pump. This will be changing by next year I hope.

  • Our hot water is heated by our stoves....either our wood heating stove, wood cook stove or our propane cooking range and poured into the bath tub or the sink for dishes. We plan on using water collectors in the future.

  • By far, the hardest thing I have had to sacrifice has been no refrigeration. In the winter here in upstate NY it is very easy and no effort at all. But these warmer months have tested my patience many times! Since we are reworking our root cellar it is not cool like it usually is in the summer. One whole wall is torn apart and lets warm air in. When that is finished it will be better than ever with the changes completed. So for the time being I have been using an ice chest in my pantry, which is also torn apart. I have to buy ice every time I go to the store and it does not last more than one day. This is the second time I have lived over a year with no refrigeration. The other time I kept fresh water from our well in the ice chests and changed it several times a day. I guess back then I wasn't quite so busy as I find it hard to do that now. I will be purchasing a Sundanzer refrigerator and freezer, which are two separate units. They are built like a chest freezer, but one is a refrigerator. They use about as much power as a laptop each. So they are coming! Need to get two more solar panels before we add them though.

The thing about these old fashioned ways is that they usually don't cost anything. Except for the kerosene for the lamps. So while we save our money to put in the technology to bring these conveniences to our homestead, we still use these old ways of doing things. The technologies that we plan to use will cost us money up front to bring them in, but in the long run they will pay for themselves with no other cost. Then some of the old ways are still the best the wood cook stove or the wood heating stove. My husband plans on adding radiant floor heat using evacuated tubes, but we will always have a wood heat stove and I would NEVER give up my wood cook stove. Though I plan on replacing my old wood cook stove with the Pioneer Maid. New technology on an old fashioned product???? We'll see when I get it.

I will touch back on some of these ideas in future posts. And especially as we complete some of our projects. Have a wonderful homesteading day and enjoy your summer!

Copyright © 2009 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2009  Kathleen G. Lupole

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Keeping Our Faith In Los Baño

We all face illnesses, financial hardship, family problems and just regular day to day stress of living in this modern world. How many times in our lifetimes do we think that life is just too difficult and wish we did not have go on? I have felt that way many times through out my life.....yet my problems did not seem to be that bad when I heard of other people's problems.

Just recently I read a book about people who had to face a severe hardship that looked like there was no end in sight. In 1941 after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, American people in the Philippines, of whom most were missionaries, were put in prison camps. At first they were all in hiding, but soon the Japanese issued the order that if they did not turn themselves in they would be shot. The ones who did not, were indeed shot.

Our Aunt Lois Hess Lupole, was a prisoner in Los Baños Internment Camp, Laguna Province, on Luzon, in the Philippines at age five with her family. She gave me the book, Escape At Dawn written by Carol Terry to read. Carol Terry was a young missionary on her way to India. She told of the hardships that they had to physically endure. Many of the people were old and not in good health after a few months of starvation, living on slugs and weeds and much worse. There were families with children, as our aunt's. Can you imagine the feeling a mother or father would have knowing that your children were starving and there was absolutely nothing you could do? One father stopped eating and divided his share of what food they were given between his wife and child. They were there for three years which to all of them seemed like forever.

When they first came to Los Baños Internment Camp, the guards took all their books and writing materials away from them. Which included what? Their most important possession! Of course, all their Bibles! Finally they asked for the Bibles back and the guards had a meeting and decided they could have the Holy Bibles back but not the New Testaments. The guards did not know that the New Testament was in the Holy Bibles too!

The one thing that was constant in all the hardships they went though was their belief in the Word and their faith saw them through. Right up to the end with everyone suffering from Beriberi which is what you get from being malnourished and eventually you will die from it. Many people did give up hope. Carol Terry tells of going off by herself to be alone with God. To talk to him about the situation they were in and ask for his assistance. She kept her faith and never said or thought that God had abandoned them. As many of the others felt the same way even in a death camp being guarded by Japanese soldiers who hated Americans. One of them would put some food in front of a child's nose and then eat it in front of the child. They tortured these people, as well as others in unspeakable ways.

A Philippine man was sent into the American soldiers camp by the Philippine guerrillas to tell them that there were over 2000 people being held in the Los Banos prison camp that was many miles back into the Japanese territory. The message was then sent to General MacArthur. After that, it became General MacArthur's uttermost goal to free those people. I won't go into the behind the scenes details of what the American soldiers had to do.....but when the prisoners started seeing American planes dipping their wings to them........they had hope! God had answered their prayers. They were still starving and were scared that the soldiers wouldn't make it in time but they knew they were aware of them being there at last.....after 3 years.

One night, one of ladies said she saw a vision of angels coming from the sky. The next morning, February 23, 1945 at dawn, the United States Army's 11th Airborne Division, assisted by Philippine guerrilla forces, carried out a lightning-swift raid forty kilometers behind Japanese lines and rescued 2,147 American and Allied civilian prisoners of war, men, women, and children. Most of the Japanese garrison were killed; the rest scattered. The prisoners had to be taken out of there safely through enemy territory by the soldiers. Going across a lake on amphibian type vehicles.....we are talking about over 2147 people who were so starved they could barely stand let alone walk. It was found out later that the prisoners were scheduled to be executed that very morning at roll call. Did God send those American soldiers or what? Their prayers were answered!

Not one prisoner was killed or seriously wounded; all were transported safely behind American lines. Not one paratrooper of the battalion directly involved was killed. In a crucial blocking force to the west of the prison camp, four 11th Airborne troopers were killed. The Philippine guerrillas suffered two men killed. Tragically, shortly following this magnificent rescue, Japanese forces returned and wreaked vengeance on the town of Los Baños, massacring some 1500 helpless Filipino civilians.

Carol Terry prayed all through her ordeal and risked her life many times through out this ordeal. It never crossed her mind that God was not with them. In the end she felt that God gave her this burden to bear to make her strong for what she would have to do in her life. In her case it was being a missionary in India at a little girl's orphanage. Now I will look at my burdens to bear in a different manner. Keeping your faith in the Lord and knowing that he is with you no matter what. Even if it seems to you that he is not there, he is. Just have faith that you will get you through it with him.

Our Aunt Lois said that her grandmother always knew they would be rescued and come home because she prayed for it. And she had faith.

Copyright © 2009 Kathleen G. Lupole

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

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mother's Day 2009

This photo is of my own dearly loved Mother, who passed away in 2002. My fabulous father who turned 90 years old today and I was lucky enough to visit this morning as he started to work on his large garden. We shared a wonderful morning with him today! In the photo is also my “Cowboy” brother, Mickey, who I will be visiting this Saturday. And the little girl in the photo guessed it! Me! Wow, time just flies doesn't it???

Such a special Mother's Day this is for me since I am fortunate enough to be a mother, a role in my life that I truly treasured. My husband, Larry and I were both lucky enough to have wonderful, loving mothers. The kind of mothers that many children of today never know. I want to thank God from the bottom of my heart for giving us our mothers and our grandmothers who helped form both of us, to become the people we are today.

In the spirit of mother's day I would like to read a couple of things which I did not write but feel are appropriate for our day today. The first is a poem written by our Uncle Bernard Lupole, who passed away on January 13th of this year, one day before his 92nd birthday. Larry's Dad's oldest brother.


I sat in my chair by the fireplace

Watching the embers die,

And as they flickered and went out

I thought of days gone by.

It was not many years ago

My mother sat with me,

But God has taken her away

till dawns eternity.

Her picture over the fireplace

Me, to her bosom pressed,

Was taken many years ago

I as a babe was dressed.

If I could have my mother

Right here with me today,

I am sure I'd never laugh and scoff

When mother tried to pray

Mother, mother, mother,

You're all the world to me

With the help of Christ, I'll live the life

Until your face I see.

This is another writing that I found that reflects on us Christian mothers. John Killinger's book, Lost in Wonder, Love, and Praise includes the following affirmation:

I believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God,

who was born of the promise to a virgin named Mary.

I believe in the love Mary gave her Son,

that caused her to follow him in his ministry

and stand by his cross as he died.

I believe in the love of all mothers,

and its importance in the lives of the children they bear.

It is stronger than steel, softer than down,

and more resilient than a green sapling on the hillside.

It closes wounds, melts disappointments,

and enables the weakest child to stand tall

and straight in the fields of adversity.

I believe that this love, even at its best,

Is only a shadow of the love of God,

a dark reflection of all that we can expect of him,

both in this life and the next.

And I believe that one of the most beautiful sights

in the world is a mother who lets this greater love

flow through her to her child,

blessing the world with the tenderness of her touch

and the tears of her joy.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Low Carb Frugal Shopping 2009

Let's face it.......buying food in 2009 is very expensive! Switching to low carb eating has changed the kind of food I purchase. I had plenty of food stored in my pantry and now my poor husband ends up eating it! Potatoes, beets, carrots, dried beans, rice, pasta, cornmeal, bread flours, etc. Look at the kind of food I was eating! All very high carbs! It's no wonder I felt so bad. Now I am changing the way I buy and what I can store. I would like to see my husband switched over to this Low Carb plan too. He could just start on the maintaining program. He is a willing subject as he thinks the other way of eating is not healthy.

I have always grown lots of salad vegetables. Especially greens and different varieties of lettuce. They are very easy to grow and can be started early directly in the ground as soon as your frost date is reached. I have two planters that are like is a double sink that is used in milk houses for washing the milking equipment. It is above my waist so I do not have to bend down or squat to pick. I have another one that is a double galvanized sink that is what people used for washing clothes and they would attach a wringer to it. Both of these I use for growing my salad greens. Just fill it up with seeds. They grow close but I like it that way. I can pick them every day through out the summer and some of the fall. You can plant in any container you find. I get my compost from my manure pile. With three horses you get alot of manure! Our horses do not take any kind of drugs or medications so it clean compost.

I have raised beds all over the place. I fill them with tomatoes, green beans, spinach, swiss chard, green peppers, hot peppers,onions, zucchini, yellow summer squash, pumpkins and winter squash. Some of them will not be ready in the summer......more like late summer or early fall. So what I do is to go to my local farmer's markets and buy there and get enough to eat fresh and to can for the winter. If you can find heirloom seeds you can save the seeds from your plants and not have to purchase them next year. I have one cherry tomato that I bought about 4 or 5 years ago that grows wild all around us. It is wonderful! Then when my plants come up I have more to can or store (I have an old fashioned root cellar and can store fresh vegetables and fruits down there as well as some home made cheese).

I have two raised stone beds that I planted strawberry plants in last year. I am waiting to see if they come up this year like they are supposed to. They kind of took over the beds and I wasn't sure if they would survive. Last year I also planted a huge garlic bed with some awesome garlic I got from my friend. One other plant I started last year was my Rhubarb and I am looking forward to seeing how that comes up. I am hoping to add berry bushes. I already have wild blueberries, elderberries, raspberries and strawberries, but would like to add the domestic kind. The wild ones are good, but so tiny. Asparagus beds is something I need to add as well.

I love the idea of growing most of our food. This year I would also like to put in some Stevia plants. My friend had it growing in her garden last year and that was the first time I tried it. So I could see drying alot of that. I have always grown herbs and will just throw a handful of different ones in our salads. I dry them for the winter and use them mostly in cooking but also make teas or infusions with some.

All I would have to do then is to order fresh meats from local farmers who offer it for sale. Anything you want that you don't grow or need more of, you can buy at the local farmer's markets or farms. Sometimes you can get good deals on it if you buy it in bulk. Put "Local Harvest" in Google and you will find a search engine that will give you a list of local farms and markets and CSA's right near where you live.

All of this food is less expensive than what you purchase in a grocery store......and much better quality. I am making a plan for purchasing the meat as I do not own a freezer or a refrigerator. So I have to bring it home and can it immediately. According to NY state law I believe the meat has to be flash frozen by the processor anyway, so I have time to let it thaw out a bit before I cook it for the canning process. Canning meat is not as hard as many people think it is. I really like it as it flavors up real good in the jar and it lasts for years (if it makes it that long!). Remember when you do this know what is in it!


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Uncle Bernard Lupole 1917 - 2009

Uncle Bernard died yesterday. Our telephone message system didn't work yesterday so we didn't know till today. We went to spend today with Larry's Dad for his 89th birthday and found out. Uncle Bernard would have been 92 tomorrow. He lived for over 19 years with cancer. Changed his diet and that is what made the difference. When his doctor told him that he had cancer, he smiled and said, "Oh boy! I'm going to heaven!" The doctor looked at him as if he had lost it. So now he shall.........

Uncle Bernard's first wife died long before I met him. He remarried and found himself a wonderful wife, Aunt Lois. She said when he asked her to marry him, her father warned her that she would be a young widow one day as he was so much older than her. Well I am happy to report that they were married for more than thirty years! Very happy years too.

Everybody thought he should have been a pastor. He was a strong spokesman for the Lord. When he visited people in the hospital or nursing homes before he left he would always offer up some prayers...........other people would always ask if he was a pastor. No, but he should have been. Yes, heaven is rejoicing today as Uncle Bernard Lupole has come home!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Who Says Solar Does Not Work????

Today is our little girl, Nikita's 11th birthday! I never thought I'd haver her this long. One thing is that my animals do live long lives and they are basically very healthy. She is very overweight and I wish I could put her on my low carb eating plan. But she wants NO carbs at all. Her being a big dog, she loves her raw meat. But I can' afford to feed her that all the time and she does not understand.

People do not understand how we live if we are not using grid power. They think we are out of power if they do not hear from us for a certain amount of time. I cannot stress enough to others, "We are NEVER without power." You are. Our system just keeps working regardless. Maybe we have to run our generator to charge our batteries in the sunless state of New York, but we still have power.

When there is a storm here we do not have to worry about our power going out. It is on. Only if we unhook it for some reason would we be off our system. Our power is in fact, more reliable than the grid power. I know someone who had a solar fence charger that was defective or the battery would not work, so she would say all the time (in front of me knowing very well that is how I live), "solar does not work." Who is she kidding? I know it works! Plus, if my batteries were defective and would not hold a charge they wouldn't work either!

I think people are scared of using it. Scared of not having the power. To tell you the truth, if it wasn't for me liking my computer so much, I wouldn't even care if I had power or not. I could live without it and keep doing like we are doing right now. Washing laundry by hand, using kerosene lights, carrying our water in from our hand dug well, etc. We have done all that most of the going on ten years that we have lived here anyway. I used to write by hand and I'd really hate going back to that as my hands hurt sometimes.

I am really looking forward to getting our conveniences put in. Using my new washing machine will really improve my laundry day! Having running water in the house is going to be fantastic! I do hate the carrying of the water buckets though my poor husband ends up taking the chore from me most of the time. It used to be my job, but when my knees got so bad he started doing it.

I knew when we moved here that I'd be sacrificing many things that I was used to using. But what were we really giving up? Really? Neighbors? I was never the kind to visit next door or hang out with my neighbors......even when I lived in a fancy neighborhood in Vestal, NY. I have always kept to myself and did things alone.......until I met my husband. Him and I seemed to be perfectly matched. We like that alone time. We can sit next to each other all day and not say a word. Later we talk for hours until late into the night. I never knew anyone who I could tell my every single thought or idea to and not have them laugh at me.

When we first moved here our only visitors were our grown children, my Jeff and his daughter Hollie Sunshine. Both of them loved being here with us out in the forest. It is like being the only people in the world.....until a vehicle drives by to remind you that we are not. We never used to visit anyone except for our parents and my brother, Mickey. Then my best friend moved close by and we used to go to her house all the time. She got mad at me because she thought my blog on myspace was about her and it was not. But she convicted herself by thinking and believing it was a Christian based blog and she is not one. Anyway, after that friendship ended we had discovered we had neglected many things on our homestead by visiting and socializing. So we have done alot of things this past year on our place and it is improving.