Friday, July 30, 2010

List Of Homesteading Skills

Our off-the-grid homestead is only one example of homesteading.

I know my lifestyle does not appeal to all the readers who happen onto my blog. They are searching for a certain piece of information. By studying my hits coming from certain keywords I have found that most of the viewers are looking for articles I have written about these topics.

1. Storing food for the winter.

2. Squash casseroles.

3. Lasagna recipes.

4. Living without a motor vehicle.

5. Living without refrigeration.

6. Self-reliant or self-sufficient homestead or home.

7. Making a living from home or on a computer.

8. Growing your own food.

9. Cooking over a campfire.

10. Using or cooking with cast iron cookware.

11. The Christian Homesteading Movement.

12. Forest living or living in the woods.

13. Homesteading, homesteaders or homesteads.

14. Frugal living, frugal recipes, frugal shopping.

15. Cooking from scratch.

16. Wheel hoe or antique wheel hoe.

17. Wild plants for medicine or food.

18. Herbal remedies from the land around your home.

19. Wild Edible plants.

20. Christian homesteads.

These are not in order of what got the most hits. But they are keywords that come up daily. I find it interesting to see what topics interest my readers or viewers. If there is a topic you wonder about and think it fits my niche, please let me know. I am more than happy to research a topic if it is something I haven't covered yet. There are many things I am trying myself for the first time and will be writing about them as well. Ever since I bought my new camera last year I have been putting many more photos on my post as you can see. It helps when I can actually show you what I am talking about.

You do not have to be a homesteader or even a farmer to be self-sufficient or self-reliant. Even someone like Donald Trump living the luxurious life in the center of Manhattan can someday need to know how to live by his own skill instead of paying for it. As the Native Americans said long ago, "Money is not going to do you any good if there is nothing for money to buy."  So take the time to learn how and what to do in case things take a turn for the worse in your life or in the world. You never know what might happen. I know, as I have lived through bad times myself. We relied on our root cellar and pantry that was full of canned foods that I canned when things were going great. They were there when it counted! 

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Typical Day At Peaceful Forest Homestead

Wordless Wednesday is here here is a typical July day on our homestead.

Grown in my garden, processed in my kitchen by us!

Nice healthy plants gave us healthy tasty beans!

Bush beans, peppers and squash plants.

Mint, dandelion, lamb's quarter growing wild, but we eat it daily!

Hobo got bored with watching us can the beans!

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Our Root Cellar - Perfect Way To Store A Harvest!

Original stairs from our root cellar

I guess  when I moved here in 1999 I didn't quite understand what a treasure I had in our house having an old fashioned real root cellar. Since our house was built in 1850, the root cellar was put in with all intentions of storing and preserving food. There was a science to it. It cannot be too humid, too hot, too cold..........has to be just right.

Stairs leading to the pantry upstairs

Our root cellar was built originally with field stone.........or should I say rock? Big rocks! In fact, since this hadn't been used as a root cellar at all since 1923, when the owners sold it to a family in Oxford for a hunting camp, we had some work to do. Previous owners had some kind of problem with the cellar walls and had replaced them with cinder blocks. That would have been fine but they took all the big rocks out of the wall and just piled them up in no orderly manner on the floor of the cellar. So you had them in the way and they were too big for me to move. Then when they put the wall in, they did not put it directly under the house wall. Now why they did that.......who knows? The only thing I know about hunting camps is that they are a place where people go to party and that may explain it. 

Rocks that were in a big pile are now our rock bench

My husband moved all those rocks and built a stone bench on the far side of the cellar. On the other side of the stairs going to the pantry. So now I will be able to store containers of things down there. He plans on rebuilding the stairs to the pantry as they are not real safe at this point.

The long pipe is from the kitchen drain.

A former post I wrote on root cellars,  Root Cellars - A Homesteaders' Must Have! tells about a book I read on the subject. This is how I plan to use mine. I will have a secure screen on the cellar windows so nothing can get in so I can open then a bit for the night. Then in the morning I will close them and open the pantry door. That way the night air will cool the root cellar, and then in the morning that cool air will cool the pantry. My husband has some plans for the pantry as to putting in a vent to the cellar, so I will know more about that set up when it is done. 

Built in bin - notice no legs!

Our root cellar also has this built in bin to store produce. It may have been built for storing apples since our property and the property around us (State Forest now) is covered with apple trees. So I am guessing it was for apples but could have been for other things. I plan on making wooden boxes and covering them with screen (not plastic and not coated) to put fresh produce in to store. I have a terrible problem with mice and worry about them ruining my crops. 

Another view of the bin 

You can easily build a root cellar outside of your house. Here are some plans I found on building a root cellar with earthbags which is on the Mother Earth News website. I know many people can just build a hole in the ground and work with that. I like mine being a part of my house, but it depends on what you have to begin with. 

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

Friday, July 23, 2010

Taking Down Ceilings In Old, Old Houses!

After the ceiling was torn down
This week we had some cooler temperatures so we were able to take our ceiling down in our living room. What a mess that was! We just stuffed all the furniture in our kitchen and on the deck, put up old sheets in the doorway to the kitchen. Then covered the batteries (part of our solar system) and the wood stoves in the living room (we have two - one is our huge heating stove, and the other is the one we had in our other house and here we use it for a stand.). My husband then went to work.

Cat food and mouse bedding in the ceiling!!!

These walls and ceilings in this week were put in during the 1850s and they used these little slat boards and cement. This cement made so much dust and it is old, and then we also had mouse beds inside the walls. Horrible! One spot in the ceiling that when he tore it down he called to me, "This spot is full of mouse beds!"

I came in to see, and I said, "That is full of cat food!"

They had been stealing cat food from the cat dishes, I guess. Then hauled it up in the ceiling for a period of years. I couldn't believe how much was up there. I know my brother-in-law thought we should just put paneling over the walls and the electric lines over that. If we did that, this stuff would be inside our walls forever! I think that would not be good. Some of the cat food had molded and who knows how long they had been doing that? We've been here and fighting mice for 11 years. We are hoping some of the things we are doing will stop their activity.

Covered up our wood heating stove

Next week we have 11 bags of cement to take to the land fill. Now we have 2 walls left to do in the living room and 2 in the bath room. More work for my husband, but at least it is getting closer to being done. This was the worst of the job. Ceilings are the worst to take down since it falls on you. You MUST wear a mask to do this, though I admit my husband didn't always do this as it was hot. But it should be tolerated anyway. For your safety.

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sights Around Peaceful Forest Homestead

Wordless Wednesday is back....................

Easter lilies blooming, smell wonderfully!

Apples growing on our old, old tree look great this year!

One of the rock piles that we keep for future projects.

Elm leaves are one of my favorites and we have plenty!

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

Monday, July 19, 2010

Live Your Life NOW

Take time to smell the flowers!

I think I would be amiss with my readers this morning if I did not mention the passing my first husband and the father of my son. He passed away in the hospital on Friday. I can hardly believe he is gone. He was a big part of my life and my son's life for so long. My first husband and I were divorced in 1990. I do not want to mention the bad as I am not thinking about any of that anymore. That has been gone from my life for a very long time now. My whole life when I was married to him was completely different. I will admit here that he hurt me very deeply and it is something you hardly forget. But when I became a "born again" Christian I forgave him, not in person because I had not seen him in over 16 years or talked to him. But in my heart and in my prayers. I even prayed for him when he became sick. I never had the chance to see him in person, or I would have tried to get him to accept Jesus in his heart, though him being very Jewish, that would have been difficult.

When a life passes it causes you to reflect on your own life. Like I said, I lived a completely different life back then and I can say with total honesty that my life today is so much more fulfilling than back then. I am married to a wonderful man who treats me like I am the most beautiful, sexiest and smartest creature on this earth. He makes me feel so valued. Isn't value what we all want? For the people in our lives to value us and love us? My husband is very adept at many, many things, so for him to give me such votes of confidence is invaluable to me. I am glad he is not the kind of person who tries to tell me how to do something or to imply that his way is the only way. We all know people like that I am sure. I am not comparing him to my other "mistakes" as he would beat them by a million miles for sure!

In my eBook, My Homesteading Journey, I mentioned that I lived the life of luxury in the past and that is very true. I lived that life. But I found it very empty. It was void of real true happiness. Money does not make the people happy if they get up in the morning and they go to a job they do not like to go to. It does not make you happy if you get up in the morning and you look in the mirror and do not like who you see there. It does not make you contented and satisfied with your life if you are hurting others or telling lies to others to make yourself look more important.

Death makes you very aware that life is not really that long. My father at 91, and my father-in-law at 90 have lived long lives. My father though has a fuller more satisfying life. He is busy and has not stopped doing anything due to his age. Fixing his house, his car, mowing his lawn and having a big garden and even canning his crop keeps him very active. And he can discuss any subject as sharply as any eighteen year old. My father-in-law though, is just the opposite, and seems to have just stopped living, waiting for death to visit him.

I feel that you should try to live your life now the way you want and not wait to retire and then start living. Take a look at your life today, right now and evaluate it. Discover what it is you want to do in your life and find a way to do it now. You never know how long you have in this life. Putting it on hold for the future may mean you will never achieve what you want to do most. I cannot tell you how many people we know or knew that had retired, and then within a few months died suddenly. Never to realize those dreams. Start working on freeing yourself for that life as soon as possible.There are always ways to make your dreams happen if you just start now. Don't wait too long.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Chill Out Winter Will Be Back!

Our Bridge Across Ludlow Creek

Everyone is complaining about how hot and humid it is right now. Yes, it is July and it is supposed to be that way. But winter will be back pretty quick and everyone will be complaining about it. For me, winter is easier than summer. I still love my garden and all, but it is much work. I will be canning pretty soon. As soon as my green beans start producing, as they are flowering right now. The bees were busy there this morning. So I thought I would post some photos I took in the winter...........some this past winter...........some from other winters.

Tawny, enjoying the snow!

My horses love winter. They especially love snow. Winter time means the paddock is firm as it is frozen so they can run and play. In the summer, if it rains a lot then it is muddy, which they hate. Or there are lots of bugs chasing them and the sun is hot. They stay inside the barn all summer during the day and only come out at night. They would rather be ridden and worked with in the winter.

Our dog, Nikita hates summer too. She loves to roll in the snow and will lay right down in it and stay for a half hour or more. In the summer, she holes up in the living room and stays still, barely even eats. The cats sleep too, but they love heat and summer. In my opinion, a cat can never be too hot!

Ludlow Creek In The Winter

In winter I can cook foods all day, slowly on my wood heating stove. It is a HUGE wood stove. I am not kidding! It will hold four of the biggest canners on it at the same time, and still have room left over. In the winter I cook dishes that get better the longer they cook. I call it my microwave and crock pot as it works both ways. You can also bake potatoes by putting them in the fire for about 10 minutes. Take them out and drop them in and out of cold water quickly. I always have hot water heating so if I want I can take a bath or use it for whatever. Very convenient.

Dark Shadow enjoying a snowy day!

We have never been really snowed in. Ice has been on our road where we couldn't get out with lots of slipping and sliding, or get up the hill near us. But if we had to, I guess we could try. For myself though, I barely drive in the winter. Hey, I grew up in Florida so I never really liked winter driving! Just stay home and off the roads is best. 

Winter at Peaceful Forest

We really have beautiful seasons out here at Peaceful Forest. It is beautiful in all seasons so it is hard to say which is the best or my favorite. Winter is harder for my husband due to firewood work, cleaning the barn, getting hay, or snow shoveling. For me, summer is harder due to gardening, canning foods, cooking and heating water and trying to keep food cold when we don't have a refrigerator.  Hot weather is harder for me to handle as I have gotten older. So there are good and bad points of any season or weather. I do love growing the food myself and I need summer for that. We can eat it in the winter and remember those beautiful, hot days of summer.................. 

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Power Outage Preparations

I built this stone bed myself a few years ago.

In the event there is a power outage where you live, (there won't be one where I live) and you have food in your freezers and refrigerator, this is what you should do. Do not open your freezer at all. As soon as you know you are without power, start using the food in the refrigerator first.

If you are able to get to a store that sells dry ice, get some, as you can use that for the freezer. If you are without power for any length of time, even if you have a gas stove, you may not be able to can the food in your freezer in time to save it. But if I had the way to cook it, I guess I would cook it up and start getting everyone to eat it. Not all of it would thaw at the same time, so you might be able to get by with it.

If there is any doubt about the food being safe to eat, then do not eat it or give it to anyone else to eat. Of course, if there is cold weather, you may be able to preserve some of the food with snow and ice.

A few years back we lived without refrigeration for over a year. At that time we had a gas refrigerator in our kitchen but just turned it off to see if we could do it. We did. We did not like it, but we did it. Now we have been living without one again. This time we don't even have the gas one if we wanted to use it. So I have learned how to live without one. I used the ice that hung off our porch during the winter. I would put the ice in my ice chests with the food I had stored there. Winter is easy, a piece of cake. Summer is another story!

I have many people ask me if they could run their refrigerator with a solar panel. No, you would not be able to run a refrigerator on one solar panel. You would need a few. Here is a site that I have bought from,  Backwoods Solar to learn more. If you live off the grid or are going to, they will send you a free catalog. Their catalog provides so much information it's like an encylopedia. If you had a lot of solar panels and a lot of sunshine and a Sunfrost refrigerator, you might be able to use it.

Isn't it strange how people lived without refrigeraton for such a long time, that once it was invented, we cannot live without it? There are many foods I like that need to be kept refrigerated or that I like cold. Eggs do not have to be refrigerated, just kept cool.

Condiments are easily put in a ice chest with cold water, but the water must be changed constantly, so it stays cool. Put the ice chest in a cool spot, like outside if you can, or even put it in a snow bank (pack it right in there). The biggest problem with the store bought condiments and stuff is that the labeling and plastic bottles get icky and make the water slippery and feel icky. I hate that, so many times I put everything in canning jars.

If you have a creek on your property, that is a good place to store those foods too. But fix it so they can't break loose and float downstream or animals can't tamper with them. I wish the creek near our home was on our property but it is not, so we can't use it or someone else could take our food. Plus, we are in the state forest and possibly some wild critters would help themselves to it!

One thing I hear from so many people is that if there was an emergency they would can up all their food. No, they won't! In an emergency you are not going to be canning food. For one thing, you may not even be at your house until after it is over with. Then you would come back home and find it is all thawed and not able to be canned. Another thing is that if it was canned, and you came back home after a few days in a shelter your home canned food is going to look mighty good to you about then! Just heat and serve. In fact, even if you can't use your stove you can heat it on an open fire or a charcoal grill if you have the charcoal stocked up and the starter fluid. So be prepared and plan ahead before you have a power outage.

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Around Chenango County On Wordless Wednesday

Just some of the sights along the way to the McDonough General Store from my house.

New York state is known for green mountains and awesome landscape!

Haying Time is most important this time of the year!

The McDonough General Store is an original mom & pop store!

This farm along the way uses work horses for much of the work!

The roads we drive to and from our home!

One of many barns we pass along the way!

One of the many cemeteries in our area.........peaceful here!

Hope you enjoyed Wordless Wednesday here today!