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.