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