Friday, April 30, 2010

Happenings Around Our Homestead

My horse Georgie Girl loves her fresh clean water from our hand dug well. It is the first thing she wants when you come into the barn. Horses consume a lot of water and hay. It is a constant need for them and good for their physical being. Georgie Girl is very careful when she drinks not to drop any grain or hay from her mouth into the water bucket. The other two girls are not as careful as she is so she tries to get her water first.

The last few days my husband has been working on my pantry. Our house is very old as I have told a zillion times before on this blog. It was built in 1850 and had absolutely no insulation in the walls. What it had was little slat boards and cement. Then we had mice running behind that, inside the walls. I could not stand that! I would hear them and it would keep me awake all night. I knew they could not get to me, but I knew they were there! So my husband has been slowly taking that out and it is a big job. It is the way the ceilings are built too, so it all needed to be removed. When he is doing it, all that cement dust comes down on him, in his hair, eyes, mouth and lungs. It is in the air and we are all coughing for a few days afterwards. Not good! But it had to be done. So he has my pantry all stripped out now. All he has left to do now is the living room walls and ceiling, and half of the bathroom. The rest of the house is all stripped out and can be finished off.

Now I am cleaning up all that dust. I will be putting all our food and supplies back into the pantry for the time being. Since he has been working on putting our solar panels up on the barn roof presently, that is where our money has to go for now. The pantry I figure will be a job to do during the colder months and right now he has to get the solar system moved. This will give me a chance to see how I can organize it best anyway.

The pantry has one door out to the kitchen and one to the root cellar. During the day I open the door to the cellar a crack to let cool air in from the root cellar. At night I close that door and will be opening a window in the root cellar a crack. That cools the root cellar off and it will stay cool through out the day even in the hot days of summer. Opening the door to the cellar a bit during the day brings the cool air from the root cellar into the pantry and will keep it cool during the day. Eventually, my husband will finish the pantry off so it will be almost as cool as a walk-in cooler all the time.

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Seasons Of The Forest

Living in the state forest of upstate New York makes me very much in tune to the changes that take place in the forest during the year or years. It has changed since I moved here eleven years ago in 1999. I have watched loggers come and go through it with their equipment not caring what gets in their way. I have seen a tornado in 2000 take out over 300 trees on our tiny piece of land and many, many more on the state forest tracts. Then they had loggers come in and do their thing. I have seen and still see the hunters, hikers, snow mobilers and four-wheelers come through and do their part too. For the most part the hardest on the land is the four-wheelers and I believe they are on the state forest illegally. The trouble is that all, except the tornadoes and storms, leave behind so much litter and garbage that I wonder why they bother coming out here to begin with. 

The forest is so beautiful and awesome at every season in the year. In the winter after a fresh snowfall, you can walk through it and it is insulated with a quietness I have never experienced anywhere else. You can hear every single sound so clearly. In the trees, high above my head I can hear the activity of the squirrels and birds who have made their residences in the canopy of the tree tops. I can look at the tracks in the snow and see the prints of rabbits and other animals who call my forest their home too. In the snow among the spruce trees, we often see the round beds made in the snow by the deer herds who feel safe sleeping in our little forest directly behind our house. I especially love seeing the tiny circle next to a larger one showing a mother and baby snuggling close for the night! 

In the spring, there is much new life peeking through. I love seeing the return of our resident robins, but it means my winter birds, the chickadees and blue jays head back into the forest as the robins take over our garden and lawn. The cowbirds move into our horses' paddock. You see the birds and animals all have their own routines and customs and they never stray from them. New plants are showing their sleepy heads. I love seeing the new growth on our lawn. Green grass amongst the old grass from the fall. Our horses eagerly await the new grass as that is their favorite with much vitamins and minerals that they badly want and need. They will chance being zapped by the electric fence for a quick nibble! 

I am looking forward to the summer in the forest. I can't pick one particular season I like the best. As far as comfort, the summer of course is the most comfortable with the least amount of work. So I will say that. And I have always loved Autumn because I love the colors of the trees. The only thing is that means the season is over and the trees lose their leaves. So I would say spring and summer is a tie

Copyright © 2010 Kathleen G. Lupole

Monday, April 26, 2010

Our First Awakening For Jesus Concert!

Saturday we had an awesome concert, The Awakening For Jesus at the Living Hope Alliance Church in Port Crane, New York. The music was awesome! My husband, Larry Lupole planned this concert with Pastor Michael Andrus from the Living Hope Alliance Church. One of the church ladies baked, I do not know how many, dozens of homemade cookies............they were so good! I try not to eat any sugar at all and I must admit that I failed on that Saturday. They were good though! They also had pizza and a huge pan of zita and sauce, coffee, lemonade and tea. What more could you want?

The music was performed by various Christian artists. We had a good mix of music........something for everyone. Rusty Leyden drove all the way from Rochester, NY to share the day and his wonderful music ministry with us. A true Godly man.

Wendee Buchmann Peake's music always touches me. And she did not disappoint me. She is so talented with The Holy Spirit working through her constantly. She played her guitar, the drums and the piano and sung her own moving music given to her by the Lord.

Sweet Aroma came to us after they left the Ruth Graham conference at Davis College in Johnson City, NY. They had a little trouble trouble getting to the church as their GPS had them going in circles.......Living Hope Alliance Church is a country church and out a little ways. But they found us and they put on a blessed performance, with good music, humor and inspiring words.

Mended was a band that played beautiful music and a band I was not familiar with. I really enjoyed them and felt their message coming through loud and clear!  They played a mixture of their own music with a few songs by known artists. Beautiful! Hope to hear them again soon.

My husband, Larry Lupole put this event together with Pastor Andrus. He performed first and played his own music. His songs are so meaningful and thought provoking. I am proud of him and his talent. He says it is not him, but the Lord. So I say..........they sure do a great job, and he is truly blessed!

R.O.A.R., Rock Of Ages Revival played last. They are an awesome rock band!! They make you want to get up and dance. I saw people keeping beat with the music and it seemed like they could barely make themselves sit still (though no one would have complained if people were dancing in their seats or the aisles). Tammy and Steve Gendron have just revamped their band and this was their first public appearance. The rest of this talented band consists of Mike Winters, Bob Vanfossen and Mike Shenk. They seem to go well together. Looking forward to hearing them more this year.

I just want to add here that if you live in the Binghamton area you might want to check out the Living Hope Alliance Church at 848 Ballyhack Road in Port Crane, NY. It is on the corner of Ballyhack and Potter Hill roads. It is a very beautiful church in a peaceful setting and some of the nicest people you'd ever hope to meet. I especially enjoy Pastor Andrus's parents! Stop in some time and tell them you found them from my blog......maybe we will be there to welcome you too!

Copyright © 2010 Kathleen G. Lupole

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day At Peaceful Forest

Today is the official Earth Day. I guess I was not really aware of it too much until I read another blog called The Snyder 5. Her blog post was "Composting For Newbies". It got me thinking as I have been actively composting and living as gently on the earth as I can for eleven years now. Ever since we moved here to Peaceful Forest Homestead in 1999. When we moved here we did not know what was in store for us. Everyone thought something big was about to happen when the year changed to 2000. Nothing happened and many homesteaders were disappointed as they could not wait to show off their skills and stuff and most important their preparations. It did appear as nothing happened but that was because there were many people working nonstop behind the scenes to make sure nothing did happen. The public just did not see or know it.

When we moved here we started composting right from the start. Our three horses contribute big time to our composting effort. We have three piles of manure in our composting pile. One is the pile we add to this year as we clean our barn.....a daily chore with three horses so we get about 1-2 wheelbarrow loads every morning. The next pile is the one that we added to last year and is sitting, composting till next year. The third pile is the one we added to three years ago, and has composted, and is a rich, black compost. That pile is the one we add to our raised beds and anywhere else we need dirt. This compost is one of the most valuable products on our homestead as it is responsible for growing our garden and giving us huge, healthy vegetables and fruits.

Since I raise much of my own vegetables and fruits I can them for future meals. It is great in the winter to open a jar of green beans that has that fresh taste. I also can elderberry juice that grows wild around us and use that for medicinal purposes as well. The jars are used over and over. I have tried over the years to cut down on the amount of cans and plastic containers I have to take to my land fill for recycling. I hate foods being contained in plastic as it is. My goal is to not have any plastic in my kitchen at all. It is such nasty stuff anyway!

I have purchased cloth bags for the grocery store and keep trying to eliminate the plastic bags from the stores. They remind me of clothes hangers and junk mail papers where they just keep multiplying if I don't keep an eye on it. I like to shop locally at farmers' markets and buy from some of my homesteading friends things that I don't grow myself.

My friend, Jamie  has always looked at the packaging in a store to decide if she wants to purchase something or not. It can be the deciding factor, even if it is something she truly needs....................if it has too much packaging and especially plastic, she will forgo it for something else or not buy it at all.

Since I have my own home based business selling guitar strings on my website I have done what I can to eliminate using too much paper and printing ink. I do include an invoice with the strings now. I have stated that on my site so the customers will expect it not having an invoice. They have to come back to the site and check their account. Another thing I do is send my used ink cartridges back to Lexmark as part of their Rewards program. When you are signed up for that they give you a discount when you purchase ink cartridges for your printer. They even send you postage paid envelopes to send the cartridges back to them. I like it.

We do not waste much around here. Be it water, electric or food. I don't feel composting and recycling is that difficult to do it you organize to make it easy to do. Make it routine and it will be your habit.....for life.

Monday, April 19, 2010

International Customers Welcome!

My little girls taking it easy

I am presently working on trying to get sales in the international markets. It seems that to cut off your international sales means you are limiting the potential of your website store. So if you work to get those sales that can increase your bottom line. We have always had traffic on our websites from international shoppers. The problem has been that I have always been afraid of those sales. Hearing the stories on eBay and other places of how the foreigners are just spammers and people out to get us makes you fear them on your site. The thing is, if I had a brick and mortar store and a Frenchman came in to look at my merchandise, would I throw him out? Or would I smile and try to welcome him to my store? Would I try to help him if he was looking for something in particular? You bet I would! I would treat him like royalty. If he took the time from his day to visit my store I would make it worth his time to do so.

Just recently I have had a couple of nice size sales that came from Paris, France. At first we were a little nervous about this sale. The buyer sent me a message and asked if he could buy our product from Paris, France. So we did some research to see how we could ship at a low cost and still make money. We ship for free to all U.S. and Canadian addresses. Our product is small and doesn't usually cost that much to ship. We do not add the shipping cost to the price of the strings. Instead we take it out of our profits. But international shipping is costly. That is what stops most sellers from doing it. We found a way to do it so it would be a worthwhile move for us. Our customer seems happy as he placed another order with us.

It seems awesome to me to be working here from my homestead in the middle of the state forest and selling my product to people living on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean! It shows you just how far we have come in such a short time. Our world is getting smaller and our world market is getting larger...........much larger. To wake up in the morning and have orders of guitar strings waiting to be packaged up is such a great concept. No driving to a job. Just working on the computer which both of us love to do anyway.

As I told in an earlier post this year, I am working on automating my life and my homestead. Making things much easier for us. Ordering supplies online so I don't have to leave home to do those errands. It is much easier for me as I am very busy here. Saves me a lot of time and time for me is also money. Plus no driving around looking for stuff that I can purchase online. Also I  have the ability to have it automated so my orders can be sent on a certain day that I set up.I am looking forward to completing this process. Then I can move onto other more important ventures.

I have been sick for almost a month now and I am finally starting to feel better. It has been the hardest thing I have had to deal with and this was just the wrong time for me to be sick. Spring is my busy time and it was frustrating. It didn't stop me from working but I wasn't my best. Now I am back to normal speed and have many irons in the fire.

Copyright © 2010 Kathleen G. Lupole

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Weather Induced Depression

The weather seems to affect many people's moods and their activities. I read aloud in the evenings to my husband since we do not have a television and have turned off our computers before supper. So I read various books from the Bible to inspirational, to business books to even books about Science (of which my husband just loves), and books about how to do various homesteading chores (such as Carla Emery's Encyclopedia of Country Living). It is our learning time. Right now I am reading a book called Sugar Blues by William Dufty and this book is so interesting.

Last night I read in a book that had various inspirational stories. The one I read was about a grandfather who when someone came by his greeting was always the same, "Beautiful day, isn't it?" No matter what the weather was....raining, snowing, cold and windy, sunny, hot and humid..........whatever it was. The author told how if it was cold and snowing, his grandfather would fill up the potbellied wood stove in the living room and get a fire going.  Then he'd bring out some paper, pens and books and settle down to spend a day reading writing and feeling the cozy warmth of a wood stove.

One day a friend came to his house to cancel their outing together due to the rainy weather and he was afraid of him getting sick. When he opened the door the first thing he heard from his friend was, "Beautiful day, isn't it?" So they went on the outing and had a memorable time. Which they would have missed out on if he had canceled due to the weather. How many times have you cancelled something you were going to do due to the weather? I have done it many times myself. Especially winter time activities. I hate driving in snow and probably miss out on doing something

So many people look at the weather and it is the factor that decides their mood for the day. I see it around me all the time. If it is a beautiful day then they are in a great mood because they can go outside and do what they want in the fresh air and sunshine. But if not, they are cooped up inside and just let their mood reflect the drip, drip, drip of the rain as it hits the windows. I know for me, I appreciate the rain. It keeps my hand dug well filled all through the summer. The only weather I cannot handle is the thunder and lightning storms but I have gotten a bit better about them in recent years. And last night we had a doozie of a thunder and lightning storm.

Last summer was the summer known as "the year of no summer" and our garden did not do well. This year I have a feeling it could be a dry summer though so far we have had a perfect spring. I try to stay "up" and not let the weather or someone else's mood bring me down. I get that from my family. My father and mother were great jokers. Always had something funny to say. I cannot ever remember my parents going around in a depression or bad mood. Though my father had periods where his health was not good and he'd be in very bad pain, later on we found that he had kidney stones and that's a whole other story.

Copyright © 2010 Kathleen G. Lupole

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spring Time Is Our New Year

 Foggy Spring Morning at Peaceful Forest

We have had a few of these foggy mornings here. I like them. It is cool and crisp in the morning when you go outside and I have always loved the fog. I do not like to drive in it but going out to the barn in the morning it has a mystic look. My little girls didn't seem to mind it much either.

First Two Robins to come home!

The day our first Robins arrived home made our day! We love these birds so much. With the arrival of them back from their trip south means the arrival of spring and a new year of growth and life for us as well. I always feel new year's day should be the day they come home. Their arrival changes the whole structure of our forest and yard. All the other birds such as the Blue Jays, Chickadees and Nuthatches seem to go back into the forest to live for the summer as the robins, the Red Winged Blackbirds, the Cowbirds all seem to take center stage in our yard and around our garden. The Woodpecker comes and goes, appearing on my deck many times through out the day.

When we first moved here the forest came right up the house. We had to cut back and cut back until we have what is now a good sized yard and many raised beds. Now I am planning on putting in a flower bed along the front. As for the birds, we seem to have made this more inviting to them. There were not that many here when we first moved in. There were many Yellow Finches but my cats have killed them and I don't see that many here anymore. I have always owned cats but am thinking when these little girls go to cat heaven I will not be replacing them. I have come to love my wild birds and would like them to feel safe when they come to our house. As it is now, Hobo, my littlest cat is a good hunter and she loves to catch the birds. She knows now that I do not want her to do this but it does not stop her unless she sees me outside.

Cooking pork ribs over the fire!

One of my favorite ways to cook during the warm weather is outside on our camp fire. I can leave food on there all day and let it cook slowly as long as you raise it up from the fire. Too close and it'll burn. I guess cooking on a wood cook stove keeps me in practice of cooking on fire. Some of my best meals have been cooked over the camp fire. I usually cook from scratch and prepare everything in the kitchen and then take it outside to the camp fire. I have been rushed at times to make something quick though. One time I needed a dish to serve to company and ran to the store and bought 4 cans of Bush's Baked Beans and a package of bacon. I put the beans in my cast iron Dutch oven and put bacon slices over the top. Let it sit right down in the coals. Mmmmmm! Was that ever good! Tasted homemade. My father-in-law could not stop eating them!  Sometimes you can make something quickly like that taste homemade if you simmer it slowly over your fire. Even on the wood stoves. 

Thank you for reading my blog today! Please follow me and I will follow your blog if you have one. I check to see who is new most every day or so.

Copyright © 2010 Kathleen G. Lupole

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Plowing The Garden With The Wheel Hoe

Raised Beds Last Year 2009 Full of Food!

Spring time seems to bring out our enthusiasm for work. Must be the birds coming back home makes us just want to be out there with them. No wonder they are singing while they work! It just seems so peaceful when the weather is nice, the sun shining, the sky blue and a gentle breeze swishing through the tops of our huge trees. Hard to stay in the house when the outside is calling to me.

My  husband has been experiencing that call to work outside big time this spring. He has been out there almost daily working on some project or other. Most of my projects lately have been inside. So here I sit while he is out there working physically hard. Sometimes sitting at the computer working online is my favorite job.......but on these beautiful, early days in the spring, after winter is over, I just want to be outside in the sun. I planted a couple of early beds of salad greens and look forward to them getting a head start. They like cool weather anyway. I never buy salad vegetables once summer is here and my plants are plentiful.

I told in my previous post about our wheel hoe which we use to plow our raised beds.......well here is a couple pictures of how it looks in action. As you can see the bicycle tire makes the job seem effortless. Seem effortless is what I said..........but it is not by any means effortless! He was working hard and he did all these wood beds in one day.

As you can see it fits right in the raised bed and you can walk alongside of it so you don't pack your composted dirt down in the bed. You could also walk with your feet on the edges of the bed if you can, but that might be easier for a younger person.

It may seem to be a lot more work than using a rototiller. But honestly it is not. A rototiller shakes and grinds while you are pushing it. It stinks from the gasoline fumes. It makes the air blue. It breaks down. My own father at almost 91 uses one, and almost every time I go over there he is working on it. Our wheel hoe can be used with your critters laying around watching you as you will see in my photo below.  You can be listening to the birds while you work.

When he was finished our raised beds looked great and seemed to be inviting me to plant something in them. So I am checking out my cold weather plant seeds now. Most of my seeds will be sprouted and ready to go in the garden by the end of May, depending on the weather of course. Our nights are still pretty cool here in upstate New York.

All our beds should produce enough food for us to get through till next harvest season. I am planning on really working hard at it this year. I will also add food I don't grow from our local farms and farmer's markets. My hope is to be able to build a safe secure little hen house for about six Rhode Island Reds. With them I think I can cut my dependence on store bought eggs. I will be writing more about eliminating many foods from the grocery stores. It isn't safe or good for you. Time for everyone to add a garden to their homes for their health and the health of their families.

As you can tell........our critters, Patches, Hobo and Nikita (our dog) got exhausted watching my husband do all that work!

Hope you were able to get a start on your gardens. I know many people in the south are a lot further along than we are. Even with a short gardening season you can fill your pantry and root cellar with much food if you just put in the effort. If you have children.........time to teach them how while you have the chance. It might just save their lives in the future.

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole