Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween Gathering Kindling On Our Homestead

Halloween Morning At Peaceful Forest Homestead

Usually October is much colder and more wet than it has been this year. So we have been pretty lucky so far. Today though, it was colder and we have been having sunshine, sleet and rain with the cooler temps all day. This is the time of the year when we are forced to use our generator more for the charging of our batteries for our solar energy system. New York state is not known for having lots of sunshine, and it has always lived up to that expectation!

Transporting kindling from the forest with my Neuton electric garden cart.

I take my garden cart out into the forest and along the side of the road looking for pieces of wood that will fit into my wood cook stove, or to use for kindling in either wood stove. Our wood heating stove in the living room is a monster. It will hold four large canners on it's top and still have room for other pans. So the size of the wood, and the amount of wood it takes, is big and a large amount. But it keeps you so cozy and warm all winter no matter what the temperature is outside. It heats up almost immediately after the fire is started. There is no waiting to get warm.

Kindling can be any size and any kind, should be dry and dead wood.

We have used all kinds of wood for cooking and heating. You will find other people will tell you that you that you cannot use this or that. But what it all comes down to, is.........that if you are cold and need a fire, and the wood burns, it will keep you warm. That is the bottom line.

Kindling is something you need to start your fires. 

The first year we moved here in 1999, we did not have a pile of firewood to use. We had to get to work on  cutting what we had here. Since we were planning on clearing our land, we did that almost immediately. I would gather all the downed wood I could find. It is amazing when you think there is no more wood to find, and then you find a huge amount that you must have missed.

Kindling starts a good fire in the cook stove. Hot!

When you build a fire, if you are not familiar with the process, I wrote a previous post about it. It is called Building The Fire In Your Wood Cooking Range. In that post, I explain exactly how to build the fire in your wood cook stove, though it will work for a wood heating stove also. Even if you don't use one, it is a good thing to know in case you ever have to do it. You need to prepare, no matter where you are, or what lifestyle you are living. Bad economic times as we are living in right now, can lead to other things that everybody needs to prepare for.

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

All Photographs Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Memories Of My Life - Chapter Three - Visiting Graceland


When my husband and I were out on the road while he was driving the over-the-road truck, we had the opportunity to spend a couple of days in Memphis, TN. Now when you mention Memphis, what is the first thing you think of? Why with my husband being a musician himself, we thought of ELVIS PRESLEY, of course! So we studied the map and found the directions to Graceland, his famous home.

Horses in Elvis's pasture.

Seeing as we are horse people, we really loved the look of this beautiful pasture. It was one part of Graceland that seemed so peaceful as not many other people seemed to be looking at the horses. I wish we could have a fence like this for our girls, but they would have to have vinyl fence as they would eat the wood fence. It was like in the middle of this city, there was this little oasis of country and elegance.

Christmas At Graceland!

I was surprised at the fact that Graceland was not as huge and gaudy as I had heard and imagined. In fact, I did not think it was all that big at all. It was nicely done, even though I had read all the critic reviews of it and how it looked like a brothel. I don't agree with that opinion at all. I felt it was a classy house, and not at all what we expected of someone like Elvis Presley. I mean I pictured him in a huge mansion that rippled with "I got money". Not at all. We were there at Christmas time in 1996, and it was decorated with Christmas trees and lights through out and outside.

Presley Graves In The Mediation Garden

In the Mediation garden, which is the final resting place of Elvis, his parents, Vernon and Gladys Presley, and his grandmother. There is a small stone memorial to his twin brother, Jesse Garon, who died at birth. It was a very serene setting with the exception of all the tourist snapping photos of the grave site. 

Elvis Aaron Presley 01/08/35-08/16/1977

After viewing the graves we went to see the Airplane, the Lisa Marie, named after his daughter. Then we viewed the Elvis Presley Automobile Museum which was pretty nice too. We saw all his gold records, his clothes and all sorts of memorabilia in the various exhibits. Inside, outside, all over, you would hear his music playing constantly. I loved that! It was a fun place to visit and we were lucky enough to be there on a day that wasn't over crowded or anything.

Couldn't you picture Elvis zooming down the road in this???

It was an interesting day and I would recommend to visit Graceland if you ever get the chance. After all, Elvis was an icon in a time when rock music was changing. He had charisma that made everyone love him, young women, old women, men, children, mothers, grandmothers. He was special, and his home being opened to the public testifies to that fact. I will never forget this trip, and am glad my husband thought it would a good way to spend an otherwise boring day in the truck stop. 

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

All Photographs Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

Friday, October 29, 2010

Getting Started In Homesteading

My husband made our bread weekly!

Baking bread is such a big part of a homesteaders' life. The people who dream about being homesteaders almost always start with learning how, if they have never done it before, baking their own bread. My grandmother always baked her own until she became diabetic. After that, she never made good food again. She made her own jam and jelly, but it was horrible since it now had saccharin in it. Yuck! I'd spit it out and she'd frown at me. 

When we moved back to NY  from St. Petersburg, FL, my husband and I found an apartment in the country. It was on 26 acres of land and was an old farm that had been converted into multi-family apartments. We lived in the upstairs of the old farmhouse. There were about 4-5 apartments there and a big old barn and the land of course. We decided that was where we would start homesteading. My husband had grown up on this road where we lived, but it was not as congested back then. Now it had lots of houses built where all the old farms were. Lots of traffic so to cross the road we had to wait awhile to get to the other side. 

Learned to grow vegetables!

We tried to put in a garden down near the creek on the land across the road. The soil was not real good, but we figured we could use the water to keep it watered and not have to carry it very far. We camped out down there in our tent and it was pretty neat as it was away from all the houses and almost like being in the real country. Nothing like where we live now though! We had the police come to visit us to investigate our garden because a neighbor could see us working on it and thought it was down there away from everything because it had to something illegal we were planting! Well, we told the cop to go check it out. It was like a garden and an Indian camp too, with a tee pee and a tanning pole. Our neighbors below us, were drug dealers and they had a hoot after they found out the cops were there for us, of all people. First they were panicking, then they were surprised as they thought we were boring. The cop came back and said yes, all she found was corn and tomatoes and some green bean plants. Loved that!

My husband  was driving an over-the-road truck off and on during this time. First for one company then switched. I was working as a home health aide for an agency and worked in a health related complex for the  elderly. So while I was at work he would make the bread, wash our laundry, work in the garden, etc. Then when he went back out on the road, I started learning how to can. I picked crab apples and made crabapple jelly. None of the people who lived around us did anything like that. I had all the crab apples and wild pears I could use. 

I kept reading my homesteading magazines, such as Mother Earth News, Countryside and Backwoods Home magazines. They helped us stay focused. On week-ends we would drive all over the country looking for our property. It was a fun time and now I look back on it and see how far we have come since that time. If you just start learning how to do some things, then start doing doesn't matter if you are in the middle of a city, in the suburbs or out in the wilderness. Most of these things revolve around the kitchen and the garden anyway.

So if you are interested in becoming more self-sufficient, keep reading my blog as I will be touching on homesteading skills every week. There are so many things you can do right now, wherever you live. I have a friend who was going to seminary school and he was able to grow a little garden right on the school property. You can do a lot more than you think. 

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

All Photographs Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

Thursday, October 28, 2010

International Children's Bible Review

 I was sent a free copy of the International Children's Bible, and am reviewing it for Thomas Nelson as a part of the Book Sneeze program. I chose this book to review as my first review for them because I was already searching for a Bible that would appeal to someone who is has an elementary age reading level. This book appears to be about a third grade reading level and that is what I needed. For anyone who has a low reading comprehension the Bible is nearly impossible for them to read, let alone understand.

This copy of the International Children's Bible has graphics through out that will make it more inviting to someone who doesn't usually leaf through a Bible to begin with. I have someone in my life who recently started reading a New Testament I got that was in a comic book form. It was not a funny Bible or making a joke of the Bible, it was true to the Bible, but more inviting to a person who hadn't ever read one before. He read the whole thing and told me about what he read. I was impressed!

So I looked for a copy of the Bible that would appeal to him that would be more than the New Testament only, the whole Bible, and give him a better idea of it. When I saw this International Children's Bible, I knew it was for him! So even though he is an adult, but an adult with disabilities, he is able to read it through himself and actually comprehend it.

I especially liked these features in the back of the International Children's Bible:

  1. Dictionary - easy to read and understand meanings for words through out the Bible.
  2. Where Do I Find It? - Shortcuts to the verses of popular topics and/or people.
  3. What God Promises About.... - Where to find verses of God's promises.
  4. Memory Verses For My Life - Verses that you may want to remember.
  5. Beautiful graphics through-out.
  6. Footnotes that are easy to understand explaining Bible names, customs and phrases.
  7. Colorful maps inviting you to look for cities and lands as you read about them.

In compliance with the FDA Disclosure which is posted on this blog to the right I am letting all readers to my blog know that I am following their rule by this statement. As I said above, I was given this International Children's Bible for free to provide a review of it here on my blog. I was not told anything about it and actually, I was even allowed to choose what book I wanted to review. I have written a completely honest opinion on it and hope you have found it helpful if you were looking for a Bible for a child or an adult with a reading disability. I will not receive any more compensation for this post. If you buy one, I will not receive any payment from Book Sneeze or Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

All Photographs Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Top Homesteading Skills To Learn Or Improve

Our paddock was completely wooded 11 years ago.

On Homesteading Today, my favorite homesteading forum, one of the threads today was about making a list of things you want to learn how to do. I made my list and realized some of the items I listed are not that I don't know how to do them, it is that I just haven't made the effort to do them. I am going to start cutting down on my computer time so that I can do my homesteading chores. They should be my top priority.

I want to learn to:

  1. grow an asparagus bed
  2. grow fruits - apple trees, pear trees, plum trees, various berries
  3. to build a hen house that will be VERY safe from critters
  4. to make one of my raised beds into a cold frame bed for winter greens
  5. to make soap
  6. to increase my preps - double our supplies
  7. to make more of my own tinctures, extracts, lotions and salves.
  8. make fermented foods
  9. make hard cheeses
  10. improve my picklemaking skills
  11. make my own dairy products from local raw milk
  12. identify wild mushrooms
  13. be more experienced with guns and get a pistol permit - needed where I live

This book is essential  for homesteaders!

Some of these skills I need a refrigerator for, and as my regular readers know, I am living without that luxury for the time being. That is one convenience I don't recommend going is hard! I have made cheese before, but the softer varieties, and that was back when I had the gas refrigerator. I have canned cheese from the store and sometimes it came out and sometimes it did not. Truthfully, I would much rather buy my cheese from local cheese makers and not the store, but sometimes I have not had much choice, money wise you know. So making my own is something I definitely want to do.

Carla Emery's book, The Encyclopedia of Country Living is filled with the instructions on so many homesteading skills that I don't know how anyone can live without it. I use it constantly, as you can see my copy is duct taped together! I belong to another homesteading forum that is only for NY homesteaders and recently our administrator had posted the directions for making the soap. I might try that in the near future. His directions were pretty good. By the way, anyone from NY state who wants to join it, contact me and I can arrange it. It is a private forum and you can only become a member if you know someone. Newbies are VERY welcome! We love to help them. But you have to be from NY.

As I work on these skills I will write a post detailing what I am doing, how I am doing it and take photos in the process. Hopefully, I can accomplish these skills and as I work on them more, will gain the experience to be able to share them with my readers here. What skills are you wanting to learn? Is there a skill that you have recently learned? If so, and you have written on your blog about it, post it in my comment section and I will write about it in future posts about homesteading skills. 

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

All Photographs Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

Sunday, October 24, 2010

She Thought She Heard Something!

Dark Shadow, my husband's horse.

Today, Dark Shadow has been whinnying real loud. When she was at the farm where we got her, she used to do that quite a bit. She would be put out in the arena while we cleaned her stall and she would race around the arena like a wild horse. I would pull in the drive way and hear her loud, strong whinny. She hated to be alone and she would let the world know that. Once they started letting her out with the other horses though, she was not so bad as she wasn't locked up like that anymore. She is a very spirited girl!

There are some hunters out and about, and she may have heard them. My husband took some hay out to her, but then she was whinnying again. So it wasn't hunger. I walked down to the corner and found there were about three vehicles of hunters and maybe some hikers down by the bridge. I know she may be smelling our neighbor's gelding up the road. Our neighbor lives about half a mile away up the road at what used to be just a camp. But he moved in a few months back and now he has a couple of horses there. I am sure he does not have a stallion, but our girls aren't that picky. It has been a long time since they have had male company or even seen another horse! 

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

All Photographs Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Memories Of My Life - Chapter Two - On The Road

A Wind Turbine Out West.

In 1995 when my husband and I came back to New York from Florida he started driving an over-the-road truck for a job. These truck driving jobs were plentiful and easy to get, especially since he had a CDL license and was trained for this when he was in the Army. We wanted to get into the homesteading lifestyle and started reading and learning about it. In the beginning we lived in an apartment in the country, but that is a whole other story.

We figured as long as we kept paying rent we would never be able to get our own homestead. So we put our belongings in storage, left our car at my parents' house and took our cat, Nutmeg, and went out on the road. We traveled all over the country and saw most of the states. Made friends with other drivers along the way. It was fun and interesting. While he was driving, I would be reading to him our homesteading magazines, and we would dream and imagine what our homestead would be like when we finally found it.

Backing the truck up to a dock in Ithaca, NY.

In Denver, CO, we got stuck at the truck stop for about three days with other Marten Drivers waiting for loads from the company. We walked around a nearby park, spent time with the drivers and just watched movies on our televison. As we crossed the country back and forth, we purchased a huge collection of western movies. That is what we did in the evenings in our little home away from home.  

We had a little refrigerator and would pull into grocery store parking lots if they allowed it. Some will not let big trucks park in their lots, so we had to park alongside the road and walk farther. We did that many times. I remember a time in Albuquerque, NM, we got caught on the way back in an approaching rain storm. It came down hard, but we were able to get back to our truck and put our bags of groceries away. We had to walk a long ways to get to the shopping center from the truck stop. The other drivers could not leave their trucks because it was raining so hard, and were complaining on the CB (radio) about that fact, and that they were hungry. I was cooking us a feast on our little "lunch box" stove. We were not hungry!

Interstate Underground Warehouse in Kansas City, MO

One experience I found scary and exciting at the same time, was driving the truck into the Interstate Underground Warehouse. It is an underground warehouse and it was huge. Dimly lit with lights throughout, my husband had to drive deep into the warehouse, which is built into a mountain. I loved the concept of it! Still kinda weird knowing you are underground. I always felt that way driving into the Holland Tunnel in New York too. Of course, that is a double whammy, being underneath the Hudson River! Not to mention all that traffic next to you, whizzing by in a narrow tunnel. Not my idea of a fun day!

In Oregon, we spent a couple of days at a truck stop due to the road being closed down in a snowstorm. Lots of drivers were there, and soon other travelers as well. Many of them had to park at the Walmart down the road because the truckstop was full. The truckstop did run out of food, but had lots of coffee and it was a good time! Later, when the road had opened, it was a treacherous climb up a huge highway mountain and back down. Very nervous, but my husband is an excellent driver and could get through most roads, even when other drivers could not. One time our windshield wipers quit during a snowstorm in Wisconsin, and he had to drive very slowly till we made it to the Marten terminal in Modevi. 

Welcome To New Mexico!

It was fun for a time and we can look back on it and talk about those times on the road. But we are glad to have our own homestead and not have to go anywhere, for days at a time. We had some experiences that we will never forget. Like the time we were at a beer distributors picking up a load and it was slow. Lots of drivers were there waiting their turn for hours. We had a little Tracphone at the time, and my husband called a pizza delivery place, and pretty soon the pizza delivery man drives in looking for our truck! All those guys were jealous they hadn't thought of it, or had their own phones (at that time they weren't that common).

Hanging Out At The Truck Stop!

In Nebraska it was so cold from the wind, that when we came out after taking our showers with our hair still wet, we ran as fast as we could to the truck, and our hair was frozen! I mean it was REALLY cold there! I am not new to cold weather, but the mid-west seemed much colder to me than New York in the winter. Maybe due to the wind chill factors. It was cold..................

At least we both got to see most of the country, from Minnesota to Texas, to California to Vermont, and most places in between. We went to a HUGE truck stop out in Iowa that was as big as shopping mall itself. We visited Elvis's "Graceland" when we were in Tennessee. I probably would have never been able to do that if we weren't out on the road. In Wyoming, we saw a track trailer overturned on the highway due to high winds. The "cowboy state" held a lot of fascination for my husband and me since we loved western movies and anything cowboy or Native American. It was a different lifestyle that is for sure. An experience I will never forget.

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

All Photographs Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

Updated 2018

Friday, October 22, 2010

They Might Be Livestock...........But They Have Feelings Too!

This field this morning was the setting for a sad moment.

This morning my husband and I shared a moment that was bittersweet. Our neighbor farmer about three miles away is a beautiful dairy farm. They have those friendly types of cows. You will go by and see the baby calves in their yard by the house. Occasionally on the way by, a cow or two or more will be in the road, having sneaked through the fence.

Some of the girls at the farm down the road.

This morning as we drove past my husband noticed the rendering truck out in the field behind the barn. If you are not up on farming, the rendering company is usually called when a large livestock animal such as a cow, a bull or a horse dies, and their body needs to be disposed of. Being such a large animal, for some people the only option is to call a rendering company. You have to pay them, but they will load your dead animal and take it away. 

That is what was happening at this farm this morning. Apparently, the cow died in the field and the truck had to be pulled by the tractor out to it. Then back out because the field was muddy and wet from all the rain we have been getting. The sad thing  to see was the whole herd of cows were running......yes, running, which I don't often see the older cows doing. They were running after the truck, apparently because they lost one of their own. It was a sad moment for my husband and me.

Georgie Girl leading the way for supper!

It makes me think of the day that one of our mares will pass away, and how the others will react, as they are very attached to each other. I mean they hardly ever see another horse since they moved out here. In a herd of horses, probably cows too, but I can't say as I don't have experience with them, but in the horse herd, they will gang up on one horse. It will make you mad, but there is nothing you can do about it. The "Boss Mare" will never be ganged up on. She will side with one of the others from time to time. I wonder if cows do that too? Anyway no matter how much they pick on each other or take food from each other, they show affection to each other too. They go wacko if you take one of them out of the paddock to ride or do something with. No matter what, they do not want to be separated and when they are, they come unglued (at least my three  little girls do!).

Tawny would give you a hug if you came to visit!

Seeing the cows running after that rendering truck is something I will never forget. I wish I had brought my camera with me this morning. But it is a picture that is embedded in my mind forever. This farm is a very peaceful farm and the cows are well taken care of there. I figure she must have died of old age or something. I have heard people say animals do not have feelings, but I know different. What about you? Do you think they feel things like we do? 

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

All Photographs Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We Had A Plentiful Harvest In 2010!

Pumpkins in the garden.

I have had a nicer than usual fall here in upstate New York. Our summer too, was awesome! No complaints here. Our garden did pretty good this year. I think we only had to water it once or twice. Of course, when my husband cleans the horses' water buckets in the morning, he dumps any leftover dirty water on one of the raised beds that is fairly close to the barn. We try not to waste any water if we can help it.

Cherry tomatoes from "volunteer plants" in my garden.

This morning as my husband and son bring in more firewood, I am reflecting on the changing of seasons, and how much I will miss my garden of 2010. I can't help it, I get attached to my plants and feel bad when I pull up each one. Especially the ones I started in my house in March. They were my babies, and this year they really flourished. I got a head start on the season by starting many plants that I usually don't start inside, such as my squash and pumpkins.

Kale, which is still growing despite cold weather and frost!

Cherry tomatoes, kale, different varieties of lettuce and greens, green beans, hot peppers, bell peppers, zucchini, yellow summer squash, butternut squash, pale grey hopi squash, lemon balm, chives, dandelions, mint, blackberries, apples, elderberries, oregano, pumpkins and rhubarb, all grew in our garden and around our homestead this year. There were some things that didn't do well and some, like cucumbers that I could not get to grow for the life of me! Usually, an easy plant to grow.

Hopi Pale Grey Squash! 

Most of our food, I can for our winter foods. Next week I will be canning up the winter squash, hopefully some chili and stew and maybe some chicken soup. I try to plan ahead by having vegetables, meat, fruits and chicken or beef stock canned. But then I also like what I call "fast food", which is homemade chili, stews, soups, and some other dishes as well as sauces, for things like spaghetti or lasagna. What about you? Do you have some homemade foods you like to can for your "fast food" meals? Share them in my comments section, as I like to get new ideas from others.

Getting green beans ready for canning.

Food is so expensive this year in our stores, I don't see how anyone can afford to eat anymore. I see plenty of cars in the parking lots at the restaurants and movie theaters and wonder how they do it. We do not live extravagantly by any means, and that works in our favor many times. I know the American government likes to tell us, that there has not been a cost of living increase in our country for the last two years. That just shows you how much our government workers know! Where do they live? I'd like to shop in their stores. Of course, New York state is not a cheap state to live in, but it has never been this bad! So keep working on your own food supply, and hopefully you can become more self-sufficient, and rely on yourself most of all. 

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

All Photographs Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole