Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Forest Homesteads

How many people live in the forest? Living in the forest is not like living anywhere else. Though I am sure living in the mountains is the same feeling. Living next to the ocean is the same, and I have lived near the ocean so I know that feeling too. I can't say I didn't love it. I did. I don't know about living in a desert. I really don't think I'd even want to try that. I love water, trees, rocks and plants. What could be better than that?

We have many different types of trees in the forest around us. Behind our home is a good size stand of spruce trees. They grew pretty close together. But they tend to get knocked over at times. Top heavy. You will see whole stands of pine trees knocked over in different areas around here. Our wind does get pretty strong here in NY at times.

Sometimes the trees have a some deformity such as this one. I like looking at the trunk as it is really deformed. I don't know why it grew like that but it catches my eye every time I pass it by. You will see various deformities on the trees every now and then. It could be the way they sometimes grow all crowded together. I don't know for sure.

Right now we have had many hunters out here. Our deer population had grown quite a bit over the past few years. One reason I think is that we haven't had that many hunters. I think this year is the most I have ever seen since we moved here. It could be because of the cost of food. A deer gives you a lot of meat!

Living in the forest gives me such peace of mind. I love it and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I hope that you can at least take a walk in the forest from time to time. Trees give you such a feeling of energy. I think that is why it good to hug a tree if you get the chance.

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cleaning Your Wood Cook Stove

Cooking on this stove is so easy!

I cook on my wood cook stove almost all year. It is easy after you learn the basics which I have covered in this post, Building The Fire In Your Wood Cooking Range. We bought this stove used at an antique shop when we lived in our previous house. It was a rental house but we could have wood stoves there. My husband was teaching me all about them, first with our wood heating stove, and then we got this one. To move it, the stove comes almost all apart. I guess that is how they transported them in wagons long ago.

The ash bucket was full!

Saturday morning when I got up and went to make a fire in my wood cook stove, I saw it needed the ashes emptied out. This is something you do often, once a day or every other day, depends on how much you are using it, and the type of wood you are burning. Some types of wood make more ash than others. There is more that needs cleaning on a wood cook stove than the ash box and the chimney. We all know about chimneys.............right??????? Mine does not ever need cleaning because it has a straight pipe with no elbows. I usually wouldn't say never, but every time we check it, it has been very clean. So even though you think it is clean, check it to make sure.

One of the burners over the oven with ashes on top of oven.

The first thing you have to do is to clean out the firebox by shaking all your ashes to the ash box below the firebox. Then of course, you would empty the ash box. Then take all your burners and top parts off your stove. Put them on newspapers or old bags. I had to use plastic bags since we do not subscribe to paper newspapers anymore. They will be very dirty underneath so make sure it is big enough to catch all the dirt.

Look inside the cook stove.

Once you have the top all open, you will need a brush and a small broom to brush the ashes off the oven and into the firebox. From there the ashes should fall into the ash box below. The two burners on the extreme right of the stove have an open area under them. I use a scraping tool and scrape the inside of the stove there, and it falls down below. This is an area where much creosote builds up due to the firebox being so far from it. When you cook, these burners would be warm or very low temperature. That proves that if it is close to your wall, it won't catch your house on fire. The firebox is where it gets hot. If my fire is going and you touch the right side of the stove it won't feel hot at all.

Creosote coats the underside of the burners that are not over the firebox.

I pile all the burners and the parts that hold them on a plastic bag. Now I have to use my brush to scrape them. I use a brush I bought at Walmart for cleaning grills. It is stiff and I can really scrub with it. Creosote coats the burners that were not over the firebox. The two burners that sit over the firebox never have any on them because the fire burns it off. The triangular pieces you see in this photo are the parts of the stove that the burners rest on. It all comes apart for easy access. The rest of the stove doesn't come apart that easy.This is as far as I go.

Creosote close up!

As you see the creosote builds up on those burners. It comes off very easily though, but is messy. This is what builds up inside chimneys when they are not cleaned often. It is no wonder they get blocked and when you open your wood stove door smoke pours out. I did let this job go too long. Our chimneys though, are my husband's job and he is good about cleaning and taking care of them. So I never really have to worry about them.

The firebox and the top of oven with ashes on top.

Some people like to keep a bed of ashes on top of the oven. They say it will warm the oven and hold the fire more. I am not sure. I clean it off and it will build back up again pretty quickly so I am not worried about it. Our stove is very old and has many little holes in it and rusted areas. We try to keep it from being wet but sometimes the pans will be wet and may cause it to get more rusted than we like. I buy the stove black every now and then and apply it to the stove. But only in the summer. Now is not the time for that.

Scraping Out the bottom through the bottom ash door.

Scraping it at the bottom is the hardest part of this job for me. Since I have extremely bad knees stooping down on the floor is not an easy task. What I do is sit on a chair or stool in front of the stove and do it the best I can that way. I had put this job off longer than I should have so it was a big job this time. It should be done more often than that. Once it is clean though, you notice immediately that it works better. Starting the fire is always hard to do if the ash box underneath is full. We empty that often.

All done and ready to cook!

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

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Then Sings My Soul By Robert J. Morgan

Such an inspirational book! I loved this book and could hardly put it down! I received this book, Then Sings My Soul by Robert J. Morgan from Thomas Nelson as a part of the Book Sneeze program. I chose this book to review as my second review for them because I thought it was an appropriate book for me. My husband plays music and sings in various Christian venues and often will include a history of a special hymn. I have seen books like this before, even have a couple myself. But this one really stands out as it gives you such details right down to special lines of the songs. The pages of the book are in the old time style of hymnals, with the jagged edges that make it easy to thumb through quickly to whatever page you are looking for.

Contains 150 hymns, including the well known Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Patriotic, as well as other favorites. The indices are easy to look up a hymn due to being searchable by the writer, the title or the first line of the hymn. Many times you may not know anything about a song except the first line. Easy to use!

Then Sings My Soul includes:

  • 150 Favorite Hymns
  • Easter Hymns
  • Christmas Hymns
  • Thanksgiving Hymns
  • Patriotic Hymns
  • Other Favorite Hymns
  • The History Behind Each Hymn
  • Indices by Title, Songwriter/Author and First Line

I highly recommend this book for a gift or if you are a Sunday school teacher or even conducting Bible studies this book would be beneficial in any of those activities. Even though I reviewed this book for Thomas Nelson and received a free copy, I would have purchased this for myself and may still do that as a gift for someone I know who would love it. I received no other payment for this review from Thomas Nelson or Book Sneeze. If you click my link under the photo, I am an affiliate of Amazon so if you buy it on their site, I would receive a small commission. I rely on that to keep my site online. Thank you, if you do!

"Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises." ~ Psalm 98:4

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Memories Of My Life - Chapter Seven - Our First Garden

Our house at the end of dead end road.

I have told on here before, that my husband was driving an over-the-road truck while we figured out where we wanted to live. I went on the road with him and our cat, and put all our belongings in storage. There came a point though, where we really wanted a home again. We kept looking for a place we could start our "modern homesteading" life. So we stayed with my parents, and then I took a job so I could save more money toward a place. Instead, I found one in the paper for rent. It was perfect for us!

Tires covered the area we wanted for gardening.

When we moved out here we were able to hike all this land anytime. We could take wood off it too. The landlords had 4 daughters that I babysat in exchange for money off our rent. My husband mowed the area by their pond and gazebo in exchange for money off the rent too. He also painted their house trim for money off the rent. There were some months when they owed us money, instead of us paying them! It was great. We could also use the pond and gazebo and had camp outs and things down there.

The same area cleared & plowed.

We learned all about gardening out here. I learned a majority of my canning skills from this garden. I was working as a home health aide during the week, and my husband had to do most of the canning during that time. He canned green beans, tomatoes, corn, creamed corn, pickles, etc. He put a lot of them up. It helps if you both, husband and wife, are equally committed to this lifestyle. To help each other, makes the jobs not seem so over whelming. 

Backyard, garden & landlord's house to the right.

Hunting was only permitted to a couple of the landlord's very close friends for the most part. So even during hunting season it was not overly populated. It was a very quiet place to live and we were even more secluded than where we are now. Since the dead-end road ended at our house, nobody ever drove by or came here unless they knew us. Very private and this is where we were able to get our puppy, Nikita.

Crops starting to come in.

If you want to live the "modern homesteading" life and are in the city now, and don't know how to get out, this is one way. Think about the fact that you have to live somewhere. So find a house to rent in the country. Like we did. Before this house we rented an apartment in the country. Not as country as this though. This one is near small towns. Jobs aren't plentiful in little towns............but that is not to say there aren't any. I found one taking care of an elderly couple in their home. It was a nice job and I enjoyed it. There are convenience stores, hardware stores, grocery stores, farms, etc. in small towns. Someone can find a job if they need one bad enough and really work at getting one.

Excited! They are coming in good!

At this house we continued baking our bread and cooking from scratch. We bought our first wood heating stove, and I learned the advantages of using firewood. Then we found our wood cook stove and put it on layaway at a local antique store. We still use it today. I learned to cook on it and found it to be an awesome way to cook. We used kerosene lamps in the evening, not just in an emergency. We had a snowstorm that knocked everyone's power out for days. Our landlord had to use a generator from his store, they stayed with family in town. The neighbors all left. We were the only ones able to stay in our house. Everyone kept asking how we were able to do that. Our house had electric, but we had prepared! So important to do wherever you live!

My husband did a lot of work out here.

We spent most of our day outside here. Even in the winter. As we were hauling wood from the forest around us and it was fun for the most part. This forest was beautiful, had waterfalls running through it. Abundant in wild game. We saw one bear there. One thing wrong with it though was the highway (88) ran alongside the property, even though it was buffered by lots of woods. We could hear the traffic all day and all night. Especially the tractor trailers. It was good for us in the respect that my husband drove a tractor trailer. At that time he switched to driving in our state only. So he was home a few times during the week too. With the highway running right by it was easy for him to stop home.

Never had any critters in our garden!

When we moved from there in 1999, it was just before the big scare over the year 2000 thing. We did not know what was in store for us. But we had to get our own place. Renting meant someone else could always tell us what to do and limit our homesteading lifestyle. So we found our own homestead surrounded by thousands of acres of state forest, off-the-grid and just waiting for someone like us to love it and nurture it. Which, we have...........our Peaceful Forest Homestead gives us something that no other place could. Peacefulness, quiet, serene living with self-sufficiency as much as possible in these times. God is truly blessing us!

"For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands, happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee."

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

Friday, November 26, 2010

Flashlights On The Homestead

Living with solar power in New York is not real easy at this time of year. It gets dark so early that our panels barely have enough time to charge our batteries. That wouldn't be so bad if our weather was bright and sunny all day but that is not the case here in New York state. So we use kerosene lamps in the evening and flashlights too. The kind of flashlights we like are the wind up type. I have seen reviews for them on Amazon where people have complained they are not bright enough. This review is for the Dynamo flashlight which is the exact same one I use. I have used these for many years now, if they get broke or lost, we just replace them.

When people complain about them not being bright enough, I think the problem is they are turning it on in a lit room. If you use them in the dark, they can be very bright. Of course you have to wind them. The more you wind them the brighter they are. That is how they are charged. I have no problem with them. My husband uses them going outside in the dark to give our horses their night hay. He has to go into the barn and then goes out in our paddock leaving piles of hay in various places. So they can graze. The flashlight works well for that.

It has two settings, so you have one LED bulb on, or all three for really bright lighting. I use mine in the evening mostly. But I can use it downstairs in my root cellar in the daytime, when it is dark down there. You just wind it up, and it'll stay lit for awhile. I am not sure how much they cost as my husband bought it as a gift for me and I didn't ask him the cost. It is a good way to not have to buy batteries all the time. Plus you have a flashlight that will always work. Good item for your BOB!

Oh, by the way, this is NOT a paid for review in any form. No free flashlight (darn!). Just a very happy customer! If you click my link on it I will make a small commission for you going there and purchasing it. A few cents, not the price of the flashlight, which I believe is $6.94 at this time. 

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Canning Pumpkin From My Garden

This is the pumpkin I grew in my garden this year. It has been sitting several weeks, actually more than a month now, and was cured and ready for canning. Actually this pumpkin would have been a perfect "keeper" for storing in a root cellar or pantry. Good for eating later on in the winter. But I chose to can it because I don't want to decide one day that I want pumpkin and have to cut up a whole pumpkin then. Besides with just the two of us here, a whole pumpkin would have to be been canned anyway.

I was kind of sad about having to make that first cut into my big, beautiful pumpkin. He had been sitting on my kitchen floor ever since I brought him inside out of the cold. I had grown fond of him and now it was time to stick my knife into him. His skin was thick, a perfect pumpkin. I made that first cut and then cut it like a circle so I could get the top off. Like when you are doing a Jack O'Lantern.

Remove the top and then clean him out. I do this on top of a cookie tray. Pull all the threads and seeds out the best you can.

Once you have it open and cleaned out, it is easier to work with. I save my seeds and that will be a future post. So for now, I will say that you can save your seeds or roast them as many people do.

Now it needs to be split in half, but be VERY CAREFUL doing this. Since mine was very thick I had to really put the pressure on the knife to cut into it. Be very cautious here as you can cut yourself if you are not careful. Once it is split, clean it out some more. If there are any threads or seeds left try to get them now since it is easier to see them with the pumpkin open.

Now I cut it into pieces I can handle. Then I cut those piece into smaller ones. Peel it, and then cube it. Pumpkin, like winter squash, MUST be cubed. Pureeing is not safe for pumpkins or winter squash. The center of it may not become hot enough to be considered safe. So please don't take the chance with your health or that of your family. It is quite easy to puree it when you prepare it for cooking later on. I put the cubed pumpkin into one of my stock pots. When it is full, just add enough water to cover. Put it on the stove and heat to boiling. Let it boil for a few minutes.

Have your sterilized jars all ready. I fill mine with hot boiling water while they wait to be filled. As I use each one, I empty the hot water out, then fill. You can add 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of salt if you want, I don't. Fill each jar and then add some of the water from the pot to about 1/2" from the top. Be sure to wipe the rim real good, then put a dry lid with the rim on the jar and tighten. It is now ready to go in the canner......the pressure canner. I am not talking about a pressure cooker. A pressure cooker and a pressure canner are two different things. Pumpkin MUST be canned in a pressure canner.

Having two canners helps me get the job done quicker. I put the jars of pumpkin in the canners as I fill them. The canner is simmering slowly until I get the jars all in. Then put the lid on and turn up the heat. It must exhaust for about ten minutes. After that I put the regulator on and wait until I hear it jiggle. Or I have the option of just using the gauge, which I do not have to do since I bought the pressure canner regulators for these canners. I wrote about this handy little item in this post, My New Pressure Canner Works Great

I pressure can these for one hour and thirty minutes at 10 pounds pressure. If you live at a high altitude consult your canning book for the pressure you would need. I used Carla Emery's Encyclopedia of Country Living. After the time is up turn off the heat. But do not take the regulator off until the pressure goes down. Then you can take it off and wait about five minutes and remove the cover. I then let it sit about five more minutes with the lid off before removing the jar. I set them in an out of the way spot on a clean towel for 24 hours. Then you can remove the rims, wash the jars off real good and dry. Label them and put them away in a cool, dim spot. I am storing mine upstairs until my pantry is finished being remodeled.

The finished product is well worth the work! What I have noticed these last two years is that pumpkin is not that easy to find anymore. Mostly what I see at the store is the "pumpkin mix", which has all the spices and the sugar already in it. What if you do NOT WANT the sugar in it? Or their spices? I like to use cloves in my pies and find this product is not to my liking. I have used it in the past but had to change my whole recipe. No, my home canned pumpkin is the real thing. Straight from my garden. You can buy pumpkins from farmers or farmers' markets and can them yourself. I know you can freeze them, but I do not own a freezer and I like it canned better. I have never cared for frozen meats or vegetables as they seem to loose their taste. Learning to can is one way to take charge of what food is going into your body and your family's. Nothing is more important!

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole

Wednesday, November 24, 2010