Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sights Around Peaceful Forest

Hobo on our morning walk

Hurricane Irene didn't do much harm to our little homestead. The center of the hurricane didn't actually come here. With so much preparations being made in New York, I was not sure how much of the effects of Irene we would be hit with. We are about five hours away so I wanted to be ready in case. Just wind and rain for us and that was fine with me. I am quite used to both, and many times our wind and rain has been much stronger than that.

Tawny avoiding the camera!

Our weather here though has already cooled off considerably. The trees are starting to turn color and the robins are not out and about as much as they were in the yard. When they start planning their fall trip south, they hang out in the forest more, eating the fruits of the forest. Packing on that weight for the long trip! I enjoy each season of the forest. But after last winter, I am kind of dreading it. We still haven't finished building the battery room and root cellar stairs. We really need that finished to make winter a bit easier around here.

Elderberries grow through out the forest!

I have been getting a good harvest of squash and cucumbers from our garden so far. Soon the elderberries and the apples will be ready too. That is, if I can get the elderberries before the birds do! They already got all the grapes! I will have to buy some of them locally for canning. The elderberries I will use to make some tincture for preventative use, and some for jelly and juice too. If I have enough.

The backyard raised beds are looking good!

All in all, we have had a very good summer, very productive in the garden. I have been able to can much food for our pantry and will be doing more in the next few months. Fall is harvest season!

Copyright © 2011 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2011  Kathleen G. Lupole

Friday, August 26, 2011

Modern Homesteading Revisted

Relying On Ourselves With No Near Neighbors
In October of 2005 I wrote:

 "Carla Emery died last week. I feel numb. She was my inspiration to homesteading. When I first purchased her book, The Encyclopedia of Country Living, I was just awed by what it represented. The idea to be self sufficient and able to take care of yourself and family. Wow! And this lady was offering you the directions and help to problems you would confront and nobody would have the answer. Many times over, I have hauled her book out to look up something I was stumped by.


My book is ragged & torn, but used daily!

 She was only 66 years old, and it was disheartening to learn that a woman who lived a healthy lifestyle, had passed away at such a young age. But in her short time on this earth, she touched many people and if they, in turn, do the same, she will have kept the "back to the land" movement, alive and well in the new century. She fired people up! She said she did it, why can't you? She said if you need help, look it up in my book, it's probably there. And it was.

Potatoes Growing In Raised Beds!
People who put down the homesteaders just have no idea what it means. But they will. When there is no food in your grocery stores, no gas in the gas stations, no drugs in the drugstore, no doctors that will see patients that don't have insurance, then you'll be wanting to know where to turn. Well, you will have to learn from the homesteaders, the people who have been busy for the last 20 years or so, setting up their homesteads. Setting up their homesteads, while their friends, family and others were laughing at them. Saying "it's just like 2000!"

Cherry Tomatoes From Our Garden!
Anybody can be taught to live like this, but not all want to. It's a matter of whether you have what it takes. You have to be able to grow a garden and take care of it and make it produce enough food for your family for the next year. You have to be able to raise chickens for eggs, if you need eggs for your family. The same with a cow and milk. If there is something you need or want to survive, you must attain it somehow. If you can raise it or grow it, that's the best way. You may be able to barter for it from other like minded homesteaders. All the money in the world won't be worth much if there is nothing to buy with it, will it?

Learned To Can!

You better start thinking of shelter, water, food, security, clothing, medical needs, heat, cooking fuel, cleaning needs, lighting, food preservation, transportation (without fuel), items to barter with for things you need. Forget about your recreational activities, going to movies, out to dinner, bar hopping, gambling, driving a motor vehicle, working a outside job (won't be any), credit cards, fancy clothes, fancy houses. Time to wake up and take a look at this world we live in. If you never heard of Carla Emery, Jackie Clay, Countryside Magazine, Small Farmer's Journal, Backwoods Home Magazine, Mother Earth News, Back Home Magazine and Homesteading Today - then you better start catching up! These are the teachers, the mentors of the homesteaders of today. Time for them to shine!"

Things haven't changed much since I wrote that. So I thought it deserved being reposted now.

Copyright © 2011 Kathleen G. Lupole 
All Photographs Copyright © 2011  Kathleen G. Lupole

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

Learn Your Homesteading Skills Slowly

We learned about alternative energy!

One of the things I have learned about modern homesteading or living a self-sufficient lifestyle is that you don't have to do it all. Do little bits at a time. Learn to do one thing before you move onto to another. Finish learning before tackling something else. I know I haven't always done that. That is why I know not to do it anymore. If you try to take on too much at once, it will seem overwhelming. You might want to give up. There are no rules, do as much as you can. Little by little. You can do it! I did.

I learned to can!

That is another reason it is good to learn much of your homesteading skills before you move to your homestead. We learned how to can, how to wash laundry by hand, how to garden and how to make homemade bread while living in an apartment. Our apartment was in the country, but in a very busy area and there were many other renters. We were fortunate in the fact, that nobody else was into this. So nobody else wanted to harvest the fruits from the crab apple or pear trees that grew there. It was an old farm that had been turned into apartments.

Our clothesline!

Living there was where I had my first clothesline as a grown up. When I was a child, my family had one at several places. But this clothesline in our apartment ran from our upstairs tiny porch out to a pole in the yard. I loved it! My husband and I did all our chores together. Some of the time I was working a full time job and he was not. So he did more of the chores than I did. Sometimes it was the other way around, him working and me at home. It was a partnership and still is to this day. Working together gets us further down our path.

Copyright © 2011 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2011  Kathleen G. Lupole

Friday, August 19, 2011

Choose Your Own Path

I lived a whole other life at one time. A life of spending time at the mall shopping for relaxation (oh my, I can't believe that was really me back then!). Spending several hours every morning at the local racquet ball court and exercise club for my exercise! A private club? Really! I am not kidding. Maids coming to my house once a week to clean. Yes, that was true too (I can admit with embarrassment now. But that is not all). Going to my hair salon once a month for my hair color and cut. Having a standing appointment every other week to have my artificial nails done. Eating dinner out a few times a week........not fast food..........nice places. It sounds too good to be true, doesn't it?

Well, I can say right now and mean it........I was not happy. The trade off for that lifestyle was that I was married to a very domineering man. A man who controlled all the money because he made it and I did not work. I stayed at home to raise my son. I can't say I minded that arrangement but still, the one who controls the money is the one in charge.

I had a house that backed up to the woods. So even though we were in a housing development, we had nobody behind us. Just ten miles of heavy woods. Deer would come in our yard. I remember trying so hard to find a way to get someone to bring a rototiller to my house to plow a garden plot for me. Never found anyone. A friend of ours who owned a restaurant used to buy the damaged fruits and vegetables from the produce sellers. He'd bring them to me, all full of rotten spots and bruises. After he left I'd toss them out (Who would want them???).

Now after 22 years have gone by and my life has changed so much and so has my way of thinking. I'd never turn my nose up at that produce now! Nope. I know how to cut around those bruises and spots now. You'd never catch me wasting food now!

And the garden? I would have gone out and started digging that ground up. Or I'd have advertised in the newspaper for someone to come plow it up for me. I could have paid someone back then easily.Shoot all my landscaping was done by a garden center, including planting my roses. I had a beautiful deck and I could have planted containers of vegetables and fruits. I didn't know how to can back then, but my father is the one who taught me some years later. He could have taught me back then too.

I guess my message in this post is, don't let anyone hold you back from things you want to do. Find a way to do it. Even if you are a stay at home Mom, you can plant some pots of food on the deck or put some plants in the yard. Do it with your children. You must find a way to put some money aside so that you are not penniless. I know that is the biggest reason why woman stay with husbands who are abusive, verbal or physical, or controlling. One of my friends back then wanted to leave her husband and I took her to the women's center for abused women. The police had to go with her to get her things out of her house. They had their guns drawn as they went up to the house to help her. What kind of situation is that to be in? I didn't have it that bad. Controlling is one thing, but I was free to go and do as I pleased most of the time. Many women are not.

Copyright © 2011 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2011  Kathleen G. Lupole

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Summer Means Gardening To Me!

The paddock in summer!

About this time of year, well usually, it happens in starts feeling like fall is coming. The rain causes some of the leaves to fall from the trees. My goodness, some have already turned red or yellow! We don't hear our birds singing in the early morning hours as they awaken at five-thirty. Nor in the evening just before they go to the sleep. Miss that sound!


As much as I love the colors of fall, the brisk air, the smells of the leaves in the forest and the fall crops such as apples, grapes, pumpkins, etc. I dread it too. It means winter is coming. Here in NY we have hard winters. Hard for us because it means snow shoveling and fire wood.

Paths shoveled, panels cleaned off!

Snow is pretty. Everyone ooohs and awwwws over it. Snow shoveling is hard work for my husband. At his age, and with a crushed right arm and a broken back, those jobs are now a major hardship. So right now thoughts of winter aren't so happy around the homestead. That is why I work so hard trying to bring money in to be able to make those jobs easier around here. But it is a constant struggle.

 August garden!

I am trying to squeeze every single second of summer in this last month of summer. Trying to get all the food from the garden I can. Even have replanted one my green and wax bean beds so far. Cherry tomatoes are coming soon. We ate our first cucumbers tonight for supper! Were they ever good! For me, summer IS my garden. I spend my time in the winter planning it. I love working in it all summer. And most especially harvesting our food from it! I am always sad when we have to put it to bed for the winter.

Copyright © 2011 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2011  Kathleen G. Lupole

Friday, August 12, 2011

Time To Prep For Fall!

Green Bean Plants in August

I have been busy working on our food that has to be canned. Harvesting green and wax beans, then canning them. My husband will be pulling up the first bed of bean plants, today or tomorrow, as they have reached their production max. Hardly any beans on any of those plants in that bed. It was the first one I planted. Time to re-plow that bed and replant more beans.

Squash Is Producing!

The day before yesterday, I canned summer squash. Our plants are producing more and more squash, and I hate to be forced to eat it for every meal. So I canned it for some tasty winter squash casseroles! I know many people say not to can it. Even the canning books say not to can it. The reason they say that is because it gets very soft and mushy. But it doesn't matter if you are putting it into a casserole or soups. So I can it and we like it fine.

Fall 2010

As we get closer to fall, I start thinking and planning about winter. It is still summer, August, hot and humid. But not for long. September is the time when our weather turns and starts that feeling that winter will be here before we know it. So...........

 Canned Summer Squash!

I am making an effort to get as much food as possible canned and stored. Making sure my pantry is organized and all things labeled for easy access. Getting rid of all extra items that we do not use anymore. No sense taking up our precious space with something that is useless to us.

Gathering Kindling

I will be going out into the woods with my garden cart gathering kindling to store for the late fall and winter. Small wood can be gathered for cook stove wood. I am always on the look out for extra firewood. After food, our next biggest prep is firewood for both wood stoves. After the winter we had last year, I want to be as prepared as possible for the upcoming winter season. Food and warmth.

 Maple leaves will be the first to turn color!

What about you? How do you prepare for winter? Are you preparing now or are you already prepared? If you are, lucky you! I realize though, it is not luck that prepares, it is organizing skills and plain good hard work that does that job.

Copyright © 2011 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2011  Kathleen G. Lupole

Monday, August 08, 2011

Canned Chicken

 Newly Canned Chicken Breast!

Chicken is on sale a lot. So it the time to stock up. I like to buy about 30 lbs. of skinless chicken breast and can it. You can buy whatever you like, thighs, drumsticks, backs, wings, boneless or with bones. I know many people like to freeze it. But nothing in my mind, compares to it being canned. It flavors it over time and protects it in case of power outages. Then you will have many quick meals!

Shopping for deals!

I have mentioned on here in a previous post, How I Can Ground Beef, that I like to shop at my local restaurant supply warehouse. MaineSource Restaurant and Party Supply Warehouse has the best meat in our area. Their prices are much better than my local grocery stores. Keeping an eye on my budget means being careful of what stores I shop at. I also like relying on a store that repeatedly sells me high quality food for a fair price.

Cooked Chicken Breast

Canning the chicken is not hard at all. I precook it. If you'd rather can it raw, that is your choice. They are both safe and good methods. Just follow the recipe in your canning book.

 Check Your Canning Book!

Be sure to have your canning book handy to refer to as you do your canning. It will give you clear instructions on how to do the canning. I always keep my book nearby and open to the recipe I am using. Even if I have done it many times. Just in case.

 Be Sure You Use A Pressure Canner!

You have to use a pressure canner......NOT a pressure cooker.......and NOT a water bath canner! It must be canned in a pressure canner, as the other methods will not bring the jars of food up to a safe temperature for canning. This is your life and your family's life you are protecting by using a safe canning method for the type of food you are canning.

 Cut Chicken In Cubes

After the chicken is cooked, since I am using boneless breast I cut it up in cubes. I think it is easier to use that way. I can use it in many recipes, shred it for salad or sandwiches. It is much more tastier than the canned chicken sold in the stores.

 Chicken Cubes In Water

Then I fill the pan with water and put it on the stove to boil. I just want the water brought to the boiling point. Take it off then, and I am already to get started. This water is what I will be adding to the jars as I can. It becomes the broth and is very good.

 Filled with hot boiling water

I fill my clean canning jars with hot boiling water and let them sit while waiting to be used. You can also immerse them in a pan of hot boiling water, but I find them hard to get out easily. This way works for me. It is up to you.

UPDATE: According to the USDA guidelines, you no longer have to heat the jars or simmer them in boiling water. I never did that anyway. I still put hot water heated to the boiling point in them so that they are hot when I put the hot food in them. I do not want to take the chance of one breaking from the hot food going into a cold jar.

 Dry the rim and lid

I put the rims and lids in hot water until I need each one. Wipe your jar lids and rims so they are as dry as possible. Remember the main reason why foods don't seal is due to grease between the rims of the jars and the lids. So make sure there isn't any there and you will get a good seal on all your food.

Then fill each jar one by one, with the chicken and add the hot boiling water. You may add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt for pints or 1 teaspoon of salt for quarts if you want for flavor. I do not. Wipe the rim of the jar and add your lid and rim and put into the canner which should be on the stove with about 3" of water simmering on the stove. Make sure you have a rack in the bottom of the canner or your jars will break.

 Canner Exhausting

After the canner is full, put the lid on and fasten it. Then turn your heat up a bit and wait for it to exhaust. You will see the steam coming out of the exhaust on the lid. It must do that for 10 minutes. It will make noise and sound like it is a rocket taking off. That is normal! Don't get scared of that.

 Regulator and gauge tell the pressure point

Then I put the regulator on it and let it come up to pressure. I use a regulator so it jiggles while at pressure. If it gets below the pressure point I am using, usually 10 pounds for my area, it will be silent. Then I know to check it. My canners have gauges so I can use them either way.

 Canning Season! 

When the time is up, I turn the stove off and let the pressure go down. It can take about 20 to 30 minutes to do so. Leave the lid alone until is done. First I take the regulator off, then let it sit for a few minutes before I loosen the lid. Open the lid away from you because the steam will be very hot. I let my jars sit about five minutes in the canner before removing them with the jar lifter to a thick towel in a safe place. Try to put them in a place where no one will touch them or cold air will hit them immediately on being taken out of the canner. Then let them sit for 24 hours.

Canned beef and chicken!

Canned meats, as well as canned vegetables, fruits and other foods will last many years in a safe spot. As long as your lids stay sealed they should be safe to eat. I have used jars of food canned many years ago. They taste like they were canned yesterday!

Copyright © 2011 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2011 Kathleen G. Lupole

Updated July 2016