Sunday, April 29, 2012

Keeping Trees Away From Horses

The path along the front fence line.

The fence line along the front of our paddock used to be right up to the tree line. My husband moved it back since the horses don't really need all that room. Since we have these little trees developing out front, I did not want them chewing on them and ruining them. A couple of them are apple trees and last summer, they had a good crop of apples on them.

This big maple Tree has been stripped of its bark.

There is a big maple tree that has been standing for many years. It gives some shade to the front of the paddock. Our three horses though, have spent much time leaning over the fence to strip this tree of its bark.They love to eat bark. If my husband cuts a new tree down and it lands in their paddock, they race out to it after it falls and start stripping the bark off.

A wide path was needed!

I liked it much better when the fence line was moved back so I could walk along the path in front and go all the way around the paddock on the path. This maple tree I have always loved. I was disappointed when the horses started chewing on it. We moved the fence line back a little bit. Didn't matter. Dark Shadow and Georgie Girl have the long neck of a Thoroughbred and they can reach places you'd never believe.

The bark is only on the front of the tree now!

Over the years, the tree has tried to repair itself. Trees do that, you know. This tree probably could have done a better job but they did stripped it badly. It is still alive and is the first to grow leaves in the spring. I figure one of these years it will die and fall over on its own. I dread that.

This tree is alive and well so far!

Our horses are real healthy, but they say it is something missing in their diet that makes them do this. I think it is boredom. When the sap is running in the tree is when they seem to enjoy the bark the most. I figure it must just taste good.

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Spring Morning In The Forest

Tawny and Georgie Girl

Such a quiet, pretty day we are having here today. The sun is shining, but it is not very warm. Cold. In fact our wood stove is going to keep the house warm. I went outside to take pictures of the horses and it was cold. The horses love to lay in the sun. Perfect time for a picture. They usually start by standing, but end up laying down in a little bit. Georgie Girl stretched right out next to Tawny and laid like that for hours.

Dark Shadow is always on the look-out for trouble!

Dark Shadow finally laid down after the other girls were down for awhile. Usually one horse will stand up nearby to protect the others. Then they switch places. Our girls here though, have become very laid back and don't see many dangers in their day to day lives. So they lay down quite often, all at the same time. Dark Shadow is like the watch dog around here. She is always watching for intruders or something that is not normal.

Our three girls

Dark Shadow and Georgie Girl are registered Thoroughbreds and have the same father. Tawny is their niece, her father, Bobby, also had the same father as Dark Shadow and Georgie Girl. Georgie was a race horse and raced at the Fingerlakes Track. She was banned from the track when she refused to race. In the breezes (test to race) she was always the fastest. In the actual race, she would not go. Even went over backwards in the starting gate with the jockey on her. She does not like being forced to do something. She likes working with you as a partner.

Quiet Morning At Peaceful Forest

Dark Shadow never raced or left the farm they were born on until we brought her here. Tawny came here two years after Georgie and Dark Shadow had been here. She is half Thoroughbred and Shetland pony. Tawny is very affectionate and gives horse hugs to everyone. She is not that nice to small animals, so I warn people who come here with little dogs not to let them run into the paddock or bark at the horses. I have to admit it is funny when dogs who have never seen a horse see one for the first time. I can imagine them thinking, "Wow, they are big!"

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Friday, April 27, 2012

My Favorite Color On Departure Fridays

My favorite color is purple!

Today is the day for bloggers to take part in Departure Fridays. That means you write about something that is a departure from what you normally write about. Even though this blog is mainly about modern homesteading, I write about a variety of subjects. It is usually about whatever is on my mind when I start typing. If you look at the last few posts here, they have all been pretty varied. So I thought and thought, trying to figure out what would be a different post for me to write about. 

I sat here a little longer and pretty soon I started typing. One thing I love that I have never written about is, the color purple. When I was younger I loved pink. Then I got older and wanted all black clothes. Don't ask me why. I did though. Now some years back, and to this day, purple is my color. I love it in just about any shade. From light lavender, violet to the deepest purple you can find. 

The color purple is mysterious because it is both a cool color and warm color. Not to be confused with lukewarm though. According to Wikipedia: "In human color psychology, purple is associated with royalty and nobility."  It is also believed to be a sign of creativity, though too much purple, like too much blue, will have the opposite effect and can cause depression and moodiness. I understand that belief, as long ago, I went to see a house that was for sale, and the house was a big ranch modern house, decorated completely in purple. As much as I love purple, it was way too much for me. I mean it had purple walls, floors, ceiling, furniture. Too much of any color!


View my favorite board on Pinterest. It is called Purple Is My Passion! Have you ever seen so many purple things in one place? I even discovered a purple store. What is your favorite color? 

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chargeback Fraud From International Buyers

Do you sell online? Have you heard of "chargeback fraud?"  Learn more about it at Paypal's guide to chargeback fraud. It is inevitable when you sell online, whether on eBay, etsy or your own website, that eventually the thieves will get you. We are fighting a case of it right now from a couple of international buyers. Or most likely it was one buyer doing both transactions.

According to Paypal: 
"While most buyers file chargebacks for reasons they believe are legitimate, there are criminals out there who try to take advantage of the system. The claims most often exploited for chargeback fraud are: A scammer makes a legitimate purchase - but claims the transaction was not authorized. A criminal pretends an item never arrived, or lies and says it arrived significantly different than it was described. Knowing about chargeback fraud helps prevent you from becoming a victim. It is also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the ways to reduce the risk of legitimate chargebacks."

Paypal had all types of ideas on their site to prevent this. In all honesty, the only help was for sellers who have a real buyer, who is not happy with the item they received or their package did not arrive. Not for sellers who had a buyer who intended to do an unauthorized credit card chargeback right from the start. An unsavory character, who you would not want as a customer. It was not helpful to prevent these types of chargebacks. I started  researching my own information on it. Chargeback fraud is a big problem for any business that sells online. Once one fraud buyer is successful, it appears that your name will appear on the national fraud list and they share it with others. Then you will get hit by more of them.

I read on eBay's International Shipping board yesterday that a lot of sellers were having to fight this type of chargeback often. One seller stated that he wins most of the disputes, but it is a pain having to deal with them so much. The reason we cannot fight them or stop them, is due to the fact that there is no way to report them to the authorities in their country or state. As of the present time, there is no way to have them arrested and charged for this crime. It is a crime. It is causing many sellers to stop selling internationally. On Paypal's and eBay's sites, they encourage you to sell internationally. They don't mention the chargeback fraud problem. Yes, it is also a problem  with US buyers also. It seems that right now it is more common with international sales.

I sell on eBay and I never sell internationally and I never will. I will not take the chance. I would not be selling from our website to international sales, if it wasn't for my husband. He likes doing it. We had some pretty good returning customers from France, Australia, Japan and some others. For now, he has set some new rules in place for international sales. The address of the buyer must match the billing address of the credit card. Then there are the free email addresses like yahoo and gmail to watch out for. Requiring a money order is another new addition. Now I have to research the type of money orders that are foolproof from international buyers.

Here is some other cases that I found and I feel sorry for them being out so much money.Chargebacks And How We Were Taken For $6K And How We Are Fighting Back. Our cases are not that amount of money but every little bit hurts. Not only are you out the cost of the product, but the expensive shipping charges that they requested (they usually pay for expensive shipping services). Chargeback Fraud - Customer Caught Red Handed (Finally!) is another post from the same site. Good information on both posts.

If you have a problem with chargebacks I hope you are able to figure out what to do. It seems online sellers are at the bottom of the totem pole in all ways these days. We are basically on our own fighting the buyers' credit card company. And the buyer can tell them anything. I always have the feeling they want to make fools out of US sellers. Not having Paypal or anyone else stand behind us sellers, makes us easy prey! Good luck!

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole unless otherwise noted

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday at Peaceful Forest

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Trusting Feedback And Reviews

In the age of the internet, we are depending on what other people say about products we purchase online. In the early days of eBay, reading the feedback of a seller, before you made a purchase was a must. Same for a seller when selling a high ticket item. Checking the feedback of the bidders gave them an idea of what to expect. My, how things have changed!

Instead of moving ahead in the feedback system, I have found it is moving backwards. Now I never go by the feedback before buying from a seller. I study their listings and see if it looks like they gave me enough information in the listing, and if it looks like they care about their business. Then I take my chance. Or I look at the feedback they have given both sellers and buyers. I never go by the negative or neutral feedback, because it usually is from a new buyer.  Or an overseas buyer who cannot understand why it has taken so long to get to them. Even when they are aware of the hold up in customs, or they did not choose for a faster method of shipping because of the cost. The feedback system is not to be trusted in my opinion.

Now eBay has the the star system. I receive 5 stars on shipping because I ship for free. So the buyer has no choice there. They ding me every time on communication? How can that be? I send them an email thanking them for their purchase, another one for thanking them for their quick payment (even if it was not a quick payment!), then I send them another email with the Delivery Confirmation number when I ship it. I try to act friendly to them and more personal in my messages. What more can I do to get 5 stars in communication? Maybe I need to call them on the phone?

I take photos of everything I sell myself. I never use stock photos. Included in my listing is a description of every little crease, rip or mark on the books or whatever I am selling. I never get 5 stars for item as described either. What do these buyers want? I am in the dark over this. Especially since they give me positive feedback every time.

Amazon is another place I have found that reviews are totally worthless. I used to use the reviews to make my choices. Not anymore! The people who do the reviews are doing it now in a mean way, trying to hurt authors, sellers, manufacturers, musicians, etc. One recent review of a book on prepping is a good example. The reviewer did  one star reviews on every prepping book there was available. I could not see that they were verified purchases from Amazon. He copy and pasted all his reviews on each one. Another suspicious thing is that the book he liked, had 6 five star reviews that was all written in the same manner that his was. What makes me think the author is the reviewer, is because what was written about his book in the sale area, is almost the same as the reviewer's review.

If a product or book has a lot of good reviews, they may be rigged or if they have bad reviews a troll has affected the reviews. So what is the sense of using them to make a purchase? They are useless. My husband left a good review of the wind turbine he bought for our system. Someone accused him of working for the manufacturer because he left a good review! They left it as comment on his review.

I no longer read the reviews on Amazon or the feedback on eBay. They are all jokes, sadly they have ruined many seller's reputations for no reason. I know I will never encourage anyone to leave bad feedback or reviews. If possible, contact the seller or author and tell them your concerns with their methods or products. Give them  a chance to make it right first. Maybe they don't have any idea what your issue with their product is. How can they fix it, if they don't know?

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Monday, April 23, 2012

Free Kindle eBook Today, A Tale Of Two Preppers

When I read this eBook a couple of weeks ago, it was like a wake up call. Time to do all the things I had been planning to do, but hadn't gotten around to yet. To be honest, I worry about the readers of my blog who do not do that. They write in the comment section how they want to do that someday! This eBook brings home the idea that now is the time to do it! How many times do we say, I want to prepare, but I just haven't gotten around to it yet?

Sue Gregersen is a fellow homesteader, that I know slightly from Homesteading Today, a homesteading forum I belong to. I have read two of her books so far, and she keeps you glued to the book until you finish it. A Tale Of Two Preppers is well written and easy to follow. Her characters, a young married couple, are real people and they reminded me of some of the people I have met online. They live in a city and didn't even know how to cook. Taking turns bringing home take-out was the extent of their meal preparations each day.

One thing this book does is to open your eyes to what could happen in this world we live in. How would you eat? What would you do if you could not go outside your apartment for a long period of time? In my mind, I pictured this city as NYC, but it could have been any city. How many people are not prepared in the least?  This book gave me ideas on things that I am not prepared for. I made a list after reading this book and started finishing up on some preparations I had already started.

Today her book is available in the kindle store on Amazon for FREE. If you do not have a kindle, that does not matter. Here is the Free App From Amazon so you can read kindle books on your computer. You don't have to buy anything. Just be sure to order this book today, while it is FREE!

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day 2012

Today is Earth Day. If you do not know what that means, it is a day set aside for people to do things in honor of our earth. Honor it by not doing the things that cause it to become polluted or harmed in any way. It is not just about not littering or burning garbage outside. It is a lot more than that. And it is not something that should be done just for one day, but for the rest of your life. It should be Earth Day every day!

Composted Dirt

What type of activities can you do that will save our planet? It may not seem like one person will make a difference. But it will! When my husband would mention doing things differently to his mother, she would always say, "Just follow along with everyone else. One person can't make a difference." She was so wrong!  One person CAN make a difference. One person DID! Gaylord Nelson, the senator for WI and founder of Earth Day, made a big difference. He started the fight for saving our earth back in 1969 by fighting for environmental legislation. If that one person hadn't started doing that, how far along do you think we'd be by now?

 If you start doing a few things that would make a difference, your children will learn to do it also. Then maybe you would influence your friends and other family members. Your children may influence their friends. It becomes a learned behavior that is passed on from one person to another. Pretty soon everybody is doing it. Not only that, but it is a healthier way to live. Be aware of the corporations you buy products from. If they don't care about our earth and people, why should you give your hard earned money to them? It is the future of your children and their children, you are protecting now!

What kind of activities would make a difference? Here are some you can do easily, wherever you live:

  • Use less water. Turn the water off while you soap up in the shower. Only turn the water on when you need it to rinse off. 
  • Plant a garden and eat from it all season. Plant containers if you don't have a yard. 
  • Water your garden with rainwater. Put containers out to collect rainwater.
  • Compost all your raw vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, grass clippings, leaves, etc. 
  • Use less energy by changing over to energy efficient appliances and lights.
  • Buy local food from farmers' markets and small nearby farms. Vegetables, fruit, dairy and meat.
  • If you knit or crochet, but fiber from local spinners.
  • Try to cook from scratch as much as possible. Do not buy processed foods if you can help it. Not only is it better for your health, but less packaging to get rid of.
  • When you shop, study the packaging of each product you buy. Try not to bring home all that plastic packaging and containers to have to dispose of after it is opened.
  • Plant  a tree in your yard every year for Earth Day! A good way to remember it.
  • Drive less. That is easier to do with the cost of gas going up. Do all your errands in one day and make your appointments on the same day also. 
  • Recycle everything possible. Don't buy anything that cannot be recycled or used in another way.
  • Shop from thrift stores or trade with friends and family. Buying new is a waste if you can buy the same things secondhand. Whatever you do, don't be wasteful.

Grow your own food!

Gaylord Nelson, would be pleased I think to see Earth Day being celebrated in 2012. Would he be pleased with how far the war for preserving our earth has come? I don't know. It has come far but could be further along. It is really an ongoing type of consciousness for all citizens of our earth.

Addressing the Earth Day 1970 audience in Denver, Nelson proclaimed, "Our goal is not just an environment of clean air and water and scenic beauty. The objective is an environment of decency, quality and mutual respect for all other human being and all living creatures."

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Information source: Nelson Earth Day

Friday, April 20, 2012

Forest Walks Are So Good For You


Our little cat, Hobo, is very much attracted to the forest. Just like I am. As she has gotten older, I notice she doesn't wander out beyond our property unless one of us is with her. Has something scared her out there? I don't know. She loves to walk out there with us, though she stops at the state line whether we go beyond it or not. She will wait for us to return to that spot.

I love this old tree!

The forest is a place to go to think. It is a place where you can go and just be in the moment while you explore the paths, the trees and the rocks. My husband always goes for a walk in the forest when he is upset or trying to figure something out. I like to go out there to talk to God, and be in tune with my natural self. That part of me that needs nature and the forest.

Hobo loves rocks too!

The other day, Hobo and I went for a walk along the paths in the forest. I love looking at those old trees. I am so sad to to see the blue paint and orange paint marked on the trees. I think it means they will be logged sometime in the near future. I really get attached to certain trees. I don't know if anyone else does that. When I started doing that, I don't remember.

Smelling another rock!

Sometimes you just need that time away from the computer. Fresh air, sunshine, birds singing, natural smells (which, by the way, I love!), and hearing the breeze in the tree tops. If you have never experienced it, and some people have not, you must make a point of someday, doing so. Spend time camping or hiking in a big forest. It will give you a feeling of independence and peacefulness. It is my time of just living in that moment. Even if I have other things on my mind.

Taking a rest!

After coming in from the forest, I was all ready to get back to work. It helps to get rid of any writer's block or anything that prevents me from being productive. I can understand why people drive to parks and state forest to spend a day. Sometimes it is just something you have to do! What about you? Do you ever spend time in nature by going to a forest nearby? I hope so! 

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Grown Up Children - Why Won't They Listen?

Binghamton, NY traffic

Yesterday, I took my son, Jeff, to the doctor's. He has been having excruciating headaches. Since he is Epileptic I have been very worried about what was causing these. As well as seeing him in pain turns my stomach. I can hardly stand it. The parent in me wants to protect him from all pain. In reality, I can't. He makes choices every day that could contribute to pain now, or in the future. In his forties now, it is not up to me what habits he develops or food he consumes.

Coffee is good, but not TOO much!

What kind of bad habits can a grown child acquire? And what as the parent can you do to change them? What part did I, as a parent, do to contribute to his habits now, when he was a child? I will take a look at them here.

1. Smoking
2. Drinking way TOO much caffeine!
3. Using huge quantities of sugar!
4. Taking double doses of pain meds or his prescription for seizures when in pain.
5. Not drinking enough water.
6. Avoiding blood work and tests his seizure doctor orders, to monitor his condition.
7. Using huge quantities of condiments on his food. He doctors whatever he eats, even puts maple syrup on Hershey's Moose Track ice cream (which is sweet enough!).

"Just do what I say, Jeffrey!"

As a parent, I cannot change his habits much more than just telling him what he should do. You probably know that does not always work. If it works at all. Going to the doctor and having to get blood work yesterday, may help. He almost fainted and had to lay down to let them continue. At 6'5" I did not want him hitting that floor. I asked to be allowed to go in with him to see the doctor. Mainly because I knew he wouldn't be 100 percent honest, and may not remember everything that I thought was important. And I was right!  Being in pain though, makes him want it to quit so I am praying this will make him change his ways.

He listened to me then!

How did I contribute to his situation now, when I was raising him as a child?

Well, the number one thing I can think of, is that I was not into this homesteading lifestyle back then. Even though I had my own home gym, a membership at a racquetball club, used local tracks for race walking and ate a very low fat, high protein diet, my husband at the time, and my son did not. His father had his own successful business and he took us out to eat several times a week. He would buy huge bags of snacks and ice cream in all flavors. He kept a second refrigerator in our garage full of coke. My son would come home from school and eat almost a whole box of ice cream sandwiches in front of his television. I'd get mad at him over that, but next time at the store I'd buy 2 boxes of ice cream sandwiches. I should have stood up to them more. Sad to say, but Jeff's Dad died in 2010 from complications from Diabetes.

Trying to quit with a eCig!

Did the way he ate as a child effect him as an adult? I think so. The smoking habit was the influence of others after he had left home. I would not let anyone even smoke in my house. When he was a child he could not eat in a restaurant if someone was smoking in it. His father would ask them to stop smoking, and they would. Other than using too much sugar, most of the habits he does now, were not learned from me or our house. He picked them up along the way in his life. Maybe from other people. Who knows? I don't feel guilty because I did the best I could and for the most part, he is a good person.

He was always so happy back then!

Being a parent of a grown up child is a lot more challenging than when they are children. They usually have to do what you tell them when they are little or living at home. Grown ups are another story. I remember well, my mother trying to steer me in the right direction. Now at my age (hitting a big one this year), I look back and think, "Why didn't I listen to Mom back then? I would have been so much better off by now?"

Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012  Kathleen G. Lupole