Saturday, January 30, 2010

Building Up My Supplies

In case anything ever does happen in our world, country, state, county, area........such as weather related storms or other emergencies..........everyone must be prepared and know what to do. You must not over react in any case. First of all take stock of what you have in place and what you know how to do.
Our homestead currently has in place:

1. Our own alternative energy system.
2. A hand dug well with a pitcher pump.
3. Heat and cook with wood that is on our land.
4. Grow most of own vegetables and keep expanding on that.
5. An old fashion root cellar.
6. Have horses and also have a doctor's buggy if needed.
7. I can and dehydrate a lot of food, including meat.
8. Have around 14 kerosene/lamps and know how to use and maintain them.
9. Husband can repair our vehicle or our house or just about anything.
10.I grew up in a hunting and fishing family and am a good shot and a good fisherman. I do not like to kill animals but if I HAD to it would be easier for me to hunt than to raise them.
11.I already forage for wild plants for food and medicinal use and know how to use them.
12.We have a treadle sewing machine and know how to use it.

Yet, there are many areas I feel we need to work on. Our house is in the middle of a major remodel and we do it little by little as we can. One thing I have thoughts about doing is building an underground camp in a cave not far from here, but out in the thick forest, and putting in provisions just in case. I have always stored water even though we have plenty.

Living simply has made it so that we never have outages of any kind. Our power has never gone out and neither has our water.

Stockpiling supplies and food - little by little - 20 items a month
Start an emergency fund in the savings account -$40. a month = $10. a week

What I have been doing to afford the stockpiling is to buy two each of 10 different items on my shopping list. They go into my stockpile. Many times a coupon I have will be for two items anyway. I also can milk and meat as well as vegetables and fruit. I shop for sales and use coupons but I do not use many convenience foods outside of some certain salad dressing or condiments.

I use those plastic containers with covers for storing foods as I live in a rural area and mice come in here pretty regular. Instead of getting stressed out over them, I keep almost everything covered in plastic containers (the big ones) and on the top of that I put cardboard so I won't get upset about their calling cards dropping into the container when I open it.

I also store water in plastic soda bottles though we have stopped drinking it now and don't have any new ones. I always drank Gingerale so had the green bottles which I like best. They keep longer.

I plan on buying another new pitcher pump to put away in case our present one broke.  Need to get more leathers for the pump as well, as we do replace them from time to time. Our pitcher pump is our only source of water at the moment.

I will write more on this as I do more and research more on this. Planning is good but doing is the important part. So be sure to buy something every time you shop for your stock pile of supplies! At least one item every time you walk into the store.

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

Monday, January 25, 2010

Building The Fire in Your Wood Cooking Range

I have had many new to homesteading people ask me about cooking on my wood cook stove. When I first got it I did not know a single thing about using it. So I really taught myself by just using it. Most of the meals I have turned out on it have been splendid. My husband loves his morning breakfast especially cooked on the cook stove. It is just easier for me cooking on it than on a gas or even an electric one, if I had one.

Closed Damper

One must be familiar with a wood cook stove before one can learn to control it. The dampers and drafts must be known, not only to the location, but their various effects upon the fire must be thoroughly understood. The time to learn all of this is when the range is cold and clean. There is always a draft, or a door below the fire to allow a plentiful supply of air to rush in and to feed the fire from below. There is also a controlling damper which shuts off the heat from passing up the chimney, and throws the heat around the oven. A third opening, or series of them, is placed above the fire box and allows the air to pass over the fire, which is the method of checking it.

Opened Damper

Important points to remember concerning the drafts:

1. A draft below the fire box.
2. A damper in the pipe.
3. A check draft above the fire.

When the fire is started, or when one desires a low fire to burn up quickly, the draft below the fire box must be wide open; the damper in the pipe must be in such a position that frees the draft up the chimney; and the draft over the fire must be closed. These several forms of drafts or dampers are present in every wood or coal cooking range.  There may be some slight modification of them, but the principle is always the same. After the fire is well started, and heating the oven is desired, the damper controlling the pipe or chimney must be closed. That will throw the heat around the oven. If the fire is burning too violently then the lower draft is closed and the draft above is opened. The chimney damper may be also closed, if desired.

Cooking on the wood cook stove

In laying a fire, see that the stove is cleaned of ashes and clinkers first. Open the lower draft and the chimney damper; and close the upper draft. Place some crumpled pieces of paper in the grate box first. Do not lay in sheets of paper tightly pressed together or magazines or catalogs. Use plenty of paper if the wood is large or damp. You may let a piece or two of the paper pass through the bars of the grate so that it may be easily ignited from below if desired. It is also well to place a large piece of wood at the back of the fire box, and to place the finest pieces of kindling first on the paper in the front.

The essential qualities of a good wood cooking range are:

1. Simplicity of construction. This renders control of the fire easy, and affords fewer chances for getting out of control.

2. Plain finish. This enables one to keep it looking well with little trouble.

3. Perfection in the fitting of parts. This facilitates the control of the fire and also of the heat, thus saving fuel and regulating the heat of the oven.

Do not be afraid to open the oven door and to look in to see how things are baking or roasting. Learn to do this quickly and quietly. Indeed, all of the movements about a stove must be done in this way.

The best time to blacken a stove is after the fire is laid, and just before lighting it. Moisten some stove polish with cold water and apply to the stove with a dauber. The blacking must be rubbed in thoroughly, especially over the "red spots." Then start the fire, and while it is burning polish the stove with a dry brush.

Enjoy it and you will catch on pretty quickly if you use it often. The more you do something the better you are at it. I know when visitors come to my home that is the first thing they notice or mention.

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

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Automating On The Homestead

I have been busy reading my new book, The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss and have been spending much time on his blog, . It has been enlightening to me. Especially since I already have two websites where I sell a product and write this blog and another. The only thing is that I work more hours by owning my business though I understand that most of the New Rich (NR as Tim calls them) own their businesses but have automated them to the point where they don't have to do the day to day jobs that need to be done. I haven't done that. To tell the truth, I like doing those little jobs. So I am not sure how I will utilize his advice but I am reading the book very carefully to comprehend his advice. There are other jobs around here that need automating and I feel that this book is a very useful tool for my homesteading lifestyle.

The modern homestead, as I call our homestead, is different from most. Some of the things I envision doing has to do with modern technology. We use old fashioned tools for some jobs because we choose to......not because we have to. My husband really likes electric tools because we can run them free using our alternative energy system. So it makes more sense. He is planning to change from using a gasoline powered chainsaw to using a crosscut saw for cutting our firewood. He does not like the noise or gasoline smell from the chainsaw, though we will keep our chainsaws for some jobs. For the same reasons we have never used a rototiller for our garden.

In The 4-Hour Work Week, I have been working on the timelines. Making a list that is titled "5 things that you dream of having" and my list is not like most people's I guess. Most people would want to move into a dream home and drive a dream car, (though I would like to own the Tesla Model S) or travel around the world. Nope, traveling is not for me. Did that and am done with that. I love my home and would just want to accelerate the remodeling and repair of it so that it would be finished and just the way we both envision it. I would not mind being able to afford a high quality horse trainer to come to my house weekly and work on training my three horses so they are better trained and can be ridden by  others as well as us. They are very spirited girls!

Homesteaders, even ones who live in the modern world like us, still do things much different from the regular civilization. One thing we do is to prepare, prepare and prepare some more! What does that mean? We stock up on our preparations as they are, supplies, tools, medicines, etc. everything we would need in case something happened in the world. I know for us, I had us stocked up real good and my husband was hurt real bad in a work related accident in 2002. We had plenty of food and supplies. So I am always adding to that. That is another one of the dreams I have......having our supplies so that we would have enough stocked up to keep us in case something happened or we could not get out of here.

So planning on automating our homestead and ridding ourselves of excess that we don't use is my first two things on my list to work on. Then it will be to develop my root cellar and pantry to sustain us in any emergency. And keep working on our websites to offer the best products we can get with free shipping and superior customer service to keep our customers coming back. For now, this is enough......don't want to overwhelm myself with doing too much at once.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Nikita Blackwolf's Twelfth Birthday

Today is our dog, Nikita's birthday. She is twelve years old today. Seems like only yesterday that I brought our little puppy home in my cat carrier. She howled like a wolf all the way home so I thought she would be a noisy little thing and be howling pretty regular. Her grandmother was a wolf so I figured she'd sound like one too. Nope. Our little girl is a pretty quiet girl. She does have a rough growl and bark. Doesn't bark very often at all. In fact, I can't remember the last time she barked.......and we had a workman here this week. She loves the element of surprise.....being black, she can surprise intruders pretty easily at night. All of a sudden there she is......and they fumble and run rather than face this very big dog.

I know most of my friends and people I know from the homesteading forums, like Homesteading Today, think that dogs are a natural enemy of chickens. When I had my pet hen, Lil' Red, Nikita and her were quite close. Nikita would protect her from other visting dogs. I remember one time she wanted to play with a dog that was here but felt like she could not leave Lil' Red's side until I brought her inside and put her in her kennel. Then she ran off to play with the dog. When Nikita was chewing on a bone, Lil' Red would stay right beside her and pick up the little bits of bone and marrow that would fall on the ground right under Nikita's face. Nikita would growl and sometimes do a sharp bark at her. But never even a nip at her, she was safer with her than our smallest horse who tried to kill her once! To tell you the truth, Nikita liked Lil' Red to do that and would get her bone and settle down near Lil" Red to chew on the bone.

Our cat Callie has a special attachment to Nikita also. When she was born my husband worked at a farm training race horses. Callie was born in the barn with two other kittens. Nikita and I went to work with my husband every day. Nikita loved those newborn kittens! She would just stare at them for the longest time. As they grew, the mother moved them into the main barn where the horses were stabled. Nikita would take her place laying in the hay with the three kittens snuggled up against her. She would just stay there till the mother cat came back. So when we ended up taking Callie home with us, she just turned to Nikita as if she was her mother. To this day, nine years later, Callie and Nikita have a very strong bond. It is nothing to see them sharing a dish of food or a bed. Or seeing Callie wash Nikita's ears or face........Nikita will just stay very still as she enjoys that very much.

Every morning at the horse farm where my husband worked Nikita would get excited at the prospect of chasing all the barn cats. She loved to chase them even if she did not hurt or do anything to them. So one morning she ran into the barn ready to chase them, when this one gray cat we called "Sawdust" did not run. She ran toward him and he held his ground. Then the other cats did the same.........then they turned and ran toward her! She did not know what to do then! Later in the week, we found her in a stall with the cats around her! So they learned how to handle that chasing business. After that they were all on equal ground.

Nikita is the type of dog that has never needed to be leashed, chained, locked up or constricted in any way.If she is in the road for any reason and I do not want her there, I can just motion with a quick wave toward the yard and she will get out of the road. She never leaves our property and goes off on her own or with another dog. One dog that used to be her friend would try his best to get her to leave with him, not Nikita. She would sit and wait for him to come back and many times he brought her a deer bone he found along the way. Male dogs were really attracted to her so we figured in the dog world she must be considered very beautiful.

The only times she has ever ventured away is when hunters have gutted a deer by the creek near our house. She will sneak away, just down the road a tiny bit, and get some of that and bring it back. Many times I already knew what she intended to do as she would stand out front in the yard and keep looking toward the creek and then look at me to see if I was watching. So I would pretend I wasn't watching and next thing I knew she was scurrying away across the road toward the creek. Then pretty soon here she was dragging part of the deer back.

She used to be so happy to travel along on horse rides leading the way, sniffing the area around the road as she traveled. But it has been a few years now since she was able to do that. Her legs won't carry her that far or for that long. She has to take it easy and can't even go for the long hikes her and my husband used to enjoy. He is pretty sad about that and doesn't go either now since it is just not the same. It is sad that a dog doesn't live as long a horse. Seems their lives are pretty short compared to many other animals. Doesn't seem fair. She will be the only dog we will ever have as we just do not want to go through this emotional thing over and over again. She has given us many, many happy memories.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Fast Internet Comes To Peaceful Forest!

The Hughes Inernet satellite installer worked about 3 hours here yesterday in the cold. He knew what he was doing that is for sure.....and he talked VERY fast. He is an independent contractor and has worked for both Wild Blue and Hughes Net. Now this is what he says.....that the site I contacted, is a reseller. A reseller doesn't care who gets the actual sale.....Hughes Net or Wild Blue. At least that is how I understand it. So when Wild Blue had no room for anyone else on their satellite the reseller contacts Hughes. He said he doesn't do anymore work for Wild Blue because Hughes in the last year and half has become so much superior. He said it is faster than Road Runner. He said the only thing that is bad about it is the fact that when you contact customer service you talk to reps in India. I can live with that.

Now our dial-up (Frontier) has been slower than most. Our phone wire coming down our road is ancient and they will not replace it because we are the only people who live full time on the road. We had to go buy a Linksys router at Walmart ($45.) and hooked it up and all three of our laptops went online last night. Fast! I could view my friends's photos of his snowstorm this morning immediately. No waiting. Another friend sent me photos in my email that was full of photos and I could open it up and photos were already there!!! Unheard of before with could tie my computer up for hours before or I'd just delete the email on the server's site to stop it from coming in.

The installer put a pole in our backyard and it is surrounded by trees. We have huge trees in our yard and surrounding us on all sides. He just faced it toward the southwest sky. Working right now in falling snow. Very husband is thrilled with it. Wants me to call and close one of the dial-up connections, one telephone line, internet call waiting and our unlisted number (since our number is all over the internet anyway due to our business and sites). We will keep one for the time being and see how it goes.

Had to pay $135. yesterday to install it because of the pole and you have to pay by check or cash. It is $59. a month unless we find we need a bigger package due to our business. My husband does a lot of music, video and web work so we will see how it does. I do mostly writing and photos so I think I will be okay. I hardly ever download a video or music myself. I think it will be good for us.