Using Cast Iron Cookware

Cast Iron Cookware

A few of my cast iron pieces

Using cast iron cookware is not as hard as many people make it sound. I use mine daily. Rarely do I use other pans, unless I need to use a stockpot or a sauce pan. The only type of skillets I own are the cast iron ones. I have various sizes and use certain ones for particular foods I am cooking. When I see the prices of cast iron on eBay, I am grateful that none of mine cost that much. In fact, most of mine were purchased at bargain prices in thrift or antique stores. Some were very rusty and were priced very low because nobody took the time to bring them back into good cooking shape. I could see the possibilities of my three favorite 6″ skillets that were sitting on a shelf in the bargain basement of a thrift shop. They were priced at a dollar each and I bought all of them. I use these more than anything else. Since there is only two of us to cook for, I can easily make our breakfast using these skillets.

Cast Iron 6 Inch Skillet

I have 3 of these 6″ skillets

Over the years, I have learned how to clean and season my cast iron cookware. Some people wash them in soap and water and some people swear not to do that. I am of the latter group. It will cause you to have to re-season them every time you wash them with soap and water. If food has stuck to the skillet, I pour hot water into it and let it soak for a few minutes. Then the food will scrap off easily. After I have scrapped it off, sometimes I will scrub it a little with a “tuffy” type of thing I use for washing pots and pans. Rinse with hot water, then dry it out good with a paper towel. I set it back on the stove to make sure it is completely dry, then I wipe it with a thin layer of bacon grease. I will store it in my gas oven which has a pilot light that is on all the time. When I use the oven, I normally will leave the cast iron skillet that I just washed in the oven. Maybe adding a little more grease (or what ever you use, you can use cooking oil as well). After it has been seasoned well, I will put it in the cupboard with the other ones.

Cast Iron Skillets in Oven

Seasoning in oven

If there is no food stuck on the skillet, you can just wipe it out with a paper towel. Well seasoned cast iron cookware, usually will not have anything stuck to it. The small skillets and a round griddle that I use almost daily, I store in my oven most of the time. I leave them in the oven when I am using it, unless I need both shelves, as it keeps these skillets well seasoned. Cast iron is known for the flaky crud that accumulates on the outside of the sides. I usually just scrap it off with my “tuffy” thing. The best way to remove it is to put in your wood stove fire (yes, right inside the stove when there is a fire going) and let it burn off.  That is if your stove is big enough for your cookware (mine is). Even better, is to put it in an outdoor fire. It burns all that crud off. Then wash the ashes off with hot water, apply whatever type of grease you like (I only use bacon grease because it is never sticky and that is what my grandmother used), then put it in your oven for an hour or so to let it season.

Cooking Eggs

Cooking Eggs


I cook eggs almost daily in one of my small 6″ cast iron skillets. I flip the eggs over to cook the other side and it slides across the surface. If I make an omelet instead, I can slide the omelet right out of the skillet onto a plate. That is the sign of a well seasoned skillet! Biscuits too, which I bake in the oven in a large cast iron skillet and they come out perfect every time. If you do not have any cast iron cookware, buy a small skillet first to get the feel for cooking with it. See how you like it first. If you are purchasing a new one, I’d suggest buying one made by The Lodge manufacturer. They are excellent quality and I have several of their pieces and am quite happy with them. There will be a waxy coating on a new one that is applied in the factory to protect it. You will have to remove that coating, then wash and season it a few times before you use it for cooking. Happy Cooking!


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Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 201
7 Kathleen G. Lupole

I write this blog based on my experience living an off-the-grid life as a modern homesteader. Some of the links you may click on, or products I recommend, may or may not compensate me for including them in my post. Be sure to read my disclosure page if you are concerned about that. I am currently an Amazon Associate and have placed links to an Amazon product in this post that I will be compensated for it you click the link and purchase this or any other product on Amazon today. Thank you if you do!


Updating Your Lifestyle

Peaceful Forest 1999

Peaceful Forest 1999

Updating your lifestyle of modern homesteading is a very simple thing to do. My title of this blog was chosen long ago in 2005 when blogs were just getting started. I first wrote it on Yahoo360. Then moved it to Blogger, finally here on my own server. Everyone was interested in my off the grid life back then. I had many people sending me messages through my eBay seller account wanting to know how to do this stuff. So I figured I’d just write it on a blog and they could read it there or ask questions, that I could answer on the blog for everyone. At that time, I loved this lifestyle and couldn’t imagine living any other way. Funny thing about life and people, is that things change. People change. Life changes.

A Farm

A Farm


Maybe due to getting older and things about this lifestyle got harder? Maybe. It reminds me of a woman I once knew. Her second husband and her met at their church. They already knew each other, but had both lost their spouses. One day she shows up at his apartment bearing homemade baked goods for him as a gift. Soon they were spending time together which eventually led to their marriage. A few weeks after their wedding, she tells him that she is not cooking anymore. She said she raised her children on a dairy farm and had cooked and worked hard all those years. Now she was done with cooking, baking and all that clean up work involved. Yes, she knew her new husband had not lived that type of life at all. In fact, his wife had not been a very good cook at all. He was looking forward to all the food he was going to be enjoying made by his new wife. What a shocker that was to him! He says to her, “What about all those homemade meals and baked goods you made for me before we got married?” She just smiled.

My Road

My Road

Life is constantly changing. If you are not, then you are just surviving, not living. Look at how many times you have changed through out your life so far. From a newborn infant, to where you are at the present moment. So with that said, let us embrace the changes going on in our lives and explore new goals. Updating your lifestyle is not that difficult or expensive. In fact, it can and should be fun. Live your life by feeling passionate about your true interests. Even if it is not what you planned to do in the first place. It is possible to not have any interest in something at one age, then become very interested in it some years later.

Raising Livestock

Raising Livestock

Modern homesteading basically means to live a self-sufficient life. Providing your family with food and necessities of life. In 2017, I really don’t think you can live totally that way, even on your own homestead. There are always going to be things that need to be bought and paid for. If you are raising livestock for food, there are many costs associated with that endeavor too. Even something like providing your own heat through harvesting firewood from your own woods would cost you if you were using a chainsaw, you would need the new chains, gas mix, gas, file, etc.. Canning foods will cost you in the jars and the lids you will need to complete that process. I am not saying you couldn’t live that way. A family I know has lived that way for many years. Even as far as cooking on a hearth and using a horse and wagon for transportation. But I noticed when I was at their homestead, that they did not make their own clothing and they hitched rides with people.  As I always say, there are no rules. Just do what you can or want and don’t let others imply that you have to do things their way. You don’t.

Rural Land Search

Rural Land Search

As many other homesteaders have shown over the years, you can live anywhere, even in a big city like New York or Los Angeles. Rural land is very expensive as more and more people expand the cities’ borders. Over population with no concern for the rural areas anymore is normal now. Just keep filling every spot with more people and then complain due to no rural land available. That’s what you get folks. Basically you can live a fairly self-sufficient life wherever you are right now. You may not have 40 acres and a mule (can you tell, I have been re-reading my Gone with the Wind book for the hundredth time?) but you can plant a garden if you have a small yard. You can purchase fresh produce and meat from local farms. Instead of buying small amounts, buy in bulk to get a better deal and then can it instead of freezing it. Tastes better that way and will keep forever. Turn a closet or an extra room in your house into a pantry.

Spots the cat

Spots Does What He Wants

For myself, now into my sixties, I am looking forward to maybe another thirty years of living my life the way I picture it. Not what someone else pictures or says I should do. Just because you have gotten older it doesn’t mean you are resigned to a rocking chair or recliner in front of a television. It means you better get busy living the life you want. Now! That is just what I intend on doing. It is time for ME! What about you? Are you ready to start updating your lifestyle?

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Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 201
7 Kathleen G. Lupole


Driving Through The Woods

Through the Woods

Through the Woods

Driving through the woods to my house, many people are under the impression that we are really “out there.” I only wish! In 1999 when we purchased our house, we had the plan to get rid of our car and use a horse and buggy for transportation. The key to that was that our house is ideally located for someone wanting to do that. I would imagine that past residents of our home, did just that and most likely walked to and back from town. Since this house was built in 1850, that is highly probable. Our location is central to several small towns and one small city. Well, things didn’t quite work out that way for us. Though we did live for over nine months without a motor vehicle. The only reason we could not do this was due to our elderly parents, who resisted us living like this constantly. And of course, our grown kids. Everybody seemed to “need” us for something.

Ludlow Creek

Ludlow Creek

I must admit, I was very impressed with the location the first day of driving through the woods to find it. It was a snow covered road going through the beautiful forest.  It was so peaceful! The snow insulates the sound, so you don’t hear anything except the occasional sound of a chickadee or blue jay. As we drove through the seasonal road, that had a sign posted to drive at your own risk, I had to get my courage up. Once we got half way through the forest, it was so breathtaking that I forgot about being nervous. At the end of that road, we were still in the woods and it was impressive. The trees were huge and grew thickly. In the middle of it all was a small creek that was flowing steadily in the middle of the winter. I fell in love with the little one lane bridge as soon as I saw it.

One Lane Bridge Sign

One Lane Bridge Sign

As the years have gone by, the feeling of being secluded or “out there” has all but disappeared. More people have moved into hunting camps in the area and made full time homes out of them. Our little road, which rarely had more than two vehicles go by in one day, now has much more than that. Still it is not like the Long Island Expressway, but the traffic has increased. If you find a homestead on a dirt road, or in the middle of a forest,  it doesn’t necessarily mean it will stay that way indefinitely. All the forests around us, mostly state forest land, have been logged and it is constantly going on. The little dirt roads are not designed for this and end up hard to drive at times due to the equipment and logging trucks. They log all year round so I just had to get used to it. Then there are the hunters of course. And their litter!

High Bridge

High Bridge

For the most part though, it lives up to the name we gave it, Peaceful Forest. I chose that name before we even found it. I knew what I was looking for and as soon as we saw it, we exclaimed to each other, “It IS Peaceful Forest!” It didn’t have as much acreage as we were originally looking for but being in the forest compensated for that. Thousands of acres surround us here and that is enough for us.

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Copyright © 2017 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 201
7 Kathleen G. Lupole


A Homesteading Snob?

Homesteading on the Internet

A homesteading snob? Are you one? What do I mean by that term? How dare I accuse of that when I don’t even know you? No need to get your feathers ruffled! Writing about the modern homesteading lifestyle since 2002, I am sure I have been guilty of being a homesteading snob myself. Now that I have experienced the ups and downs that life has presented me, I have more of an open mind. I want to encourage people in all walks of life to become more self-sufficient. At least as much as they are able, depending on their own situation and life. We are all different……….yet so much alike.The biggest expense we have is usually housing, whether you pay for an apartment or a mortgage on a house you are buying. Even if your house is paid for, the cost of owning one and maintaining it can be costly. Add in the utilities and there goes your paycheck. Most people take from their food budget as the other bills go up. What else can you do? Can’t tell the propane company that you can’t pay such a big bill because your income does not go up. No, instead your food budget has to be cut. Another fact of life is that some people don’t even have a food budget! Probably more than you know.

Homesteading on the Internet

It is easy for you who grow and raise all your own vegetables, fruits, meat and dairy to look down your noses at the ones who do not. Or for others who shop for locally grown organic foods and wouldn’t touch a processed food with a ten foot pole. But you know, not all people can afford to shop for those foods because along with the label of organic comes the status of higher prices. If you are shopping with a low budget or no budget, you just can’t afford that food no matter how much healthier and safer it is for you and your family. These people need your support and encouragement. Maybe you could share some food from your garden with someone who is struggling? Or offer to show someone how to start their first garden? Trade some produce for some assistance in your garden. Plant extra for that purpose. Who couldn’t use help in planting and weeding and later on with the harvest? Teach someone how to can while having their help during your busy canning season and sharing the bounty. Instead of being a homesteading snob, excite someone!

Homesteading on the Internet

Many families live from food pantries. Probably more than from food stamps, because the people in the middle are lost. They make too much money to qualify for any type of benefits and too little to pay all their bills and still buy food. Their basic expenses such as housing, utilities, insurance and transportation lowers their income to levels way below the poverty guidelines. So what can they do? It doesn’t matter. No food this month. Try telling that to your children or a husband that has a physically demanding job and is living on low nutritional foods. Even though I live off the grid and raise a huge garden every year, I still have to buy food from the grocery stores. I tried buying organic and locally grown, but just didn’t have a budget to support that food. I have seen other homesteaders complain about people not wanting to pay $3-$5. for a dozen of homegrown organic eggs. I can’t pay that much myself. I can buy them much cheaper at the local grocery store and I usually buy two cartons of 18 eggs each for less than $3.00. We go through a lot of eggs here, my husband having four a day and myself having two. I don’t even use them for baking, instead using powdered eggs for that so we have the fresh for breakfast. If all eggs were sold at the higher prices I wouldn’t be able to afford them at all, organic or not. It all comes down to shopping within your budget. Some people have a smaller budget than others. So I do what I can to put food on my table. 

Homesteading on the Internet

Instead of being a homesteading snob and complaining about others, put forth an effort to encourage, help and teach them. Food prices keep going up. Packaging keeps getting smaller. Young people may not have been taught how to provide food for themselves and their families by their parents. When they are broke, sharing your seeds and showing them how to plant a garden is a great start. Many young people have grown up in a family where both parents worked, as I did too. My mother left a written paper with instructions of what I was supposed to do when I got home from school to get our supper started. So when she came home she just had some basic things to complete for our home made supper. We never ate in restaurants or had any type of fast foods when I was growing up. In fact, my father made our breakfast every morning before he left for work. We could have whatever we wanted, usually eggs cooked a variety of ways, pancakes or cereal, hot or cold. Sometimes he’d throw a hot dog in there for a treat since he liked having one for his breakfast on some mornings. Help someone and it helps you too. Not only do you have the feeling of helping someone, but you have encouraged them to help someone else like you did. Try it!

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Copyright © 2016 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 201
6 Kathleen G. Lupole


Modern Homesteading Groundwork

Peaceful Forest Homestead

Peaceful Forest Homestead

Modern homesteading groundwork is more important now than ever. I laugh at comments on websites about modern homesteading that people make about how you can’t live that way. They mention you have to do this or you can’t do that. Then they might say they wish they could live that way but it is impossible. A word comes to mind, “legalization” (of the American people) which is normally used referencing various denominations of churches and religions. They rule you to death, till you get fed up with someone else telling you how to worship, what to believe or what you can do. I had my fill of those, believe me. They use Bible scriptures out of context to make you see their way. Instead of working on their own self-sufficiency in their own home, it is easier to blame it on the government’s strict rules (to keep you dependent on them) or some other reason why you cannot do it. I have a friend who badly wanted to be a “modern homesteader” and never could quite make it, due to her own rules of why she was not. She canned, gardened, was a spinner, raised goats, angora rabbits, chickens, sheep, had a few horses and a cow at different times. Did she think of herself as a “modern homesteader?” Nope, because she was not off the grid. She even used kerosene lights at night (which I do not do, since I have free solar electric) to try to fit her idea of what she thought she had to do to reach her goal.

Laundry on Line

Freedom to hang laundry on line

Well, I am here to tell you that there are no rules to start your modern homesteading groundwork or to live a self-sufficient or self-reliant lifestyle. None. Not even one. When I see people saying there are, I may not comment on it (why fight with ignorance?) but I laugh about them. Sorry, but that is what I do. You can live anywhere and just start doing it. Even in a high rise apartment in the middle of New York City or Los Angeles. Yes, imagine my surprise when I was selling my first eBook back in 2007, My Homesteading Journey, and had a famous person who living in LA purchase it! I still wonder about it, seeing she was a model and came from a very famous and powerful father.  Sorry, don’t mean to drift from my topic. People love rules and impose them on themselves and others. It holds them back from living the life they desire. Don’t do that. It is hard enough trying to remain free and independent in our country now with the way our government has been slowly steering us toward a socialist government over the years, but more so in the last eight year of this administration. It will get worse if the citizens don’t wake up and stand strong against it. This is why no matter what you do or want to do, than ever before, you are criticized for doing whatever you do or say. Wonder why people in other countries look down on Americans? Our attitude. Our ability of being proud regardless of how much money we have or what kind of job we may have. They are not allowed to feel that way so they hate us. Why can’t we all stick together? Because some people want that type of government and to be taken care of and not do anything for themselves. It keeps or makes them in a depressed state. How many times do you hear, “You can’t do that.” “You can’t live that way.” But you can.

To our house

To our house

I have never been one to follow others. Neither has my husband, so that is why this self-sufficient life fits us so well. We both lived in the other world, him having his own record company and meeting with officials of the recording industry in DC and NYC. For me, well I was involved in an accounting business and lived a pretty luxurious lifestyle while my son was growing up. We both had to fall back on our childhoods of being raised in the country by parents who taught us many of the skills we brought to this life.

Lilies

Lilies


Here is a list of things for you to think about and maybe get started on preparing in a  few different areas of your life. In case something does happen, you will feel like you have done something about it before the fact.

1. Stop being honest when filling out paperwork for anyone – not just the government, but schools, all medical, veterinarians, financial institutions, etc. Just give them what they need to know, bare bones information. If you have to lie on yes or no questions, then lie. It is a matter of survival. Don’t put the answer, “I’d rather not say” or skip the question. Don’t answer anything that makes them take a second glance at your form. Do not get mad at them and say anything that will bring attention to yourself and family. That is the way you would become a target.

2. Teach your children to be tough. Don’t make soft kids because they grow up to be babies as adults and are easy prey for others (including government and social programs). Teach them how to work and skills for survival. Make exercise a fun activity and do family outings together that are beneficial for their well being. Don’t count on school sports and activities because if you are not homeschooling your children, they are being programmed, and in group sports it is happening also. What activities do I recommend? Gardening, cooking, baking, preserving foods, animal care, hiking, foraging for wild edible and medicinal plants and how to use them, fishing, hunting, swimming, boating, primitive tent camping (no cell phones or convenience gadgets), etc. You get the idea. Make it fun with your whole family and include other families or relatives you are close to. Let your child take part, not just sit back and watch mom and dad set everything up and letting them do little safe, easy chores. “Oh no, she can’t cut up a zucchini with a knife! She might cut herself,” comes to mind. Instead TEACH her how to use a knife and how to cut up the vegetables. That is how they learn.

3. Privacy – This is one I struggle with. For me, it is hard due to my writing and being on Facebook. It has crossed my mind to regularly, like weekly or even daily, to take down all my posts and comments off my page and others that I comment on. Be selective of who you accept as a friend or what pages you like. Be especially careful of responding to private messages. I usually delete those. One sad thing is that you can put anyone’s name into Google and find out a lot of information about them. Many pages come up for me when I put my name in. Including past addresses, employers, anyone who has ever lived in your house (with you or before or after you moved), including how much your house is worth and what you paid for it and even how many bedrooms it has. Nothing is private any longer. Yes, my house comes up and I live in a very rural location in the middle of acres of state forest and most of my neighbors are hunting camps and farms. 

4. Live a minimalist life. Yes, get rid of everything in your house, barn or outbuildings that you do not use, is broken or does not belong to you. No more junk, knickknacks or things to be only used when company comes. Get rid of old toys, clothing or anything else you don’t need. Now you have room for the essential things you need to store, such as food, supplies, tools and equipment. The key here is to never have to run to a store because a storm is coming or some other major emergency (such as martial law???) or that you have lost one of your income steams and have no money to go to a store.

5. Extra Money – We always need extra money! Who doesn’t? Relying on a retirement check or a job is living too close to the wire. Not having to pay for things like electric, water, heat, television, an extra vehicle has been a situation that I am very thankful for. Paying off all debt and not running up more is the key to this. If you pay for heat, save to pay for it annually and you can usually get a good deal paying in advance. We have only paid for firewood about four times in 16 years that we have lived here. I am considering buying a piece of wooded land to use for our firewood. That would give us more independence.

Every bit of our work here has been toward the goal of laying our modern homesteading groundwork. Whatever you do, take little steps and do what you can. Do not stress about what you haven’t done yet. I have written many posts on how to get started, prepping, food preservation and storage and gardening. Look through my back posts and you will have much information. On my other blog, Solar Baby, I have written about setting up a small affordable alternative energy system. Reading is your most important way to learn. Keep learning, but start doing something and teach your family too. Good luck! 

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Copyright © 2016 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2016 Kathleen G. Lupole


Preparedness Food List

Food preparedness list begins here

Food preparedness list begins here

I am working on my preparedness food list right now. I go to a lot of websites on homesteading, preparedness, prepping, self-sufficiency and self-reliance and I am usually disappointed. A good many are covered in ads and have that annoying pop up trying to catch my email address. Just trying to read an article on it is nearly impossible. I usually can’t make it though the whole article due to the ads. With my internet connection, a video or anything like that slows my computer down considerably and I end up leaving without reading their article. So I thought I’d write my own list and not concern myself with what someone else thinks. They usually aren’t accurate, considering I am not really a “prepper” but live this way all the time, regardless of power outages or storms. This is a way of life for me. Each individual family must have some idea of what they need without reading a huge of list of what others think you need or what they are trying to steer you to buy so you click on their affiliate links. 

This is my food list and how I prepare to have food stored in my kitchen, pantry and root cellar. Make changes where you see fit. Every family is different and you may have a family member who eats a special diet. In our house, we eat low carbs as much as possible. 

katlupe’s Preparedness Food List:

1. Food Needed – Figure out what you fix for meals. How much and how often.  I do this on a monthly basis and multiply it by 12 for the year.

2. List the ingredients you need to make each recipe. Be sure to include all seasonings, oils and condiments needed. Figure out how much of each needed.

3. Include some foods for quick meals that can be prepared without cooking or heating. For emergencies.

4. Don’t forget water storage! Go to Ready Water Storage, a government site to read their recommendations. Whatever you do, DO NOT store it in used milk containers. 

5. Snacks for everyone makes a bad situation bearable. Stock up ingredients to make those snacks your family enjoys. Be sure to include some ready made ones for when you are short on time.

6. Include desserts! Yes, everyone loves their desserts. Once again, I recommend some ready made ones that take no cooking or heating. Ingredients for your homemade desserts will a pleasant ending to meal on a bad day or for a special occasion. 

7. I mentioned having condiments stored, but if times get really tough and worse than they are right now (which I believe is happening presently), you may not be able to replenish your condiments stash. Be sure to include ingredients to make them yourself. Homemade ones are much better anyway, I do this all the time. 

8. Beverages – This is the hard one. It is best to get your family used to drinking water mainly. But what if water is in short supply? Even tea and coffee take water. Maybe some canned fruit juices, evaporated milk and dehydrated milk would be good to store. These milk products can be used for cooking too. Tea can be made from wild medicinal and/or edible plants around your home. Just be careful where you forage for them. Many homeowners use chemicals on their lawns and you don’t want to pick any from those areas. 

9. Storage of all. How or where do I store it all? This one I have problems with myself. As we work on our house, we keep adding more storage areas. making more room in your home by getting rid of all your excess stuff is essential. This is one area that I am presently working on, so I will be writing future posts and sharing how I overcome this obstacle.

10. A garden is essential to providing a large share of your food supply. I grow, can dehydrate and store a large amount of produce yearly. What I don’t grow, I buy locally. Do not rely on a freezer for storing your food. Even with my own power system something can go wrong with it and I would be without power for a period while we repair it. Same with your freezer. Many people have lost food due to a malfunction of their freezer. This is the reason why I can so much food. Can all the food you harvest in case the next year’s harvest fails. 

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Copyright © 2016 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2016 Kathleen G. Lupole


Cats In My Garden

Rocks In Bed for Cat Protection

Rocks In Bed for Cat Protection

Cats in my garden! Yikes, they are my own too! Cats are my biggest pest in my raised beds. My own cats! I had to figure out what to do so I could replant them after the cats ruined most of the plants I planted earlier. I got a lot of ideas of what I could do. One of them that I really like is the idea of using hardware cloth laid down on the top of the bed. Then plant each seed in one of the little squares. That would work. But at this time I needed something I already have. What do I have plenty of? Rocks, of course! An unlimited supply. I knew my cats, being elderly, are quite lazy. They don’t want to have to go to a lot of trouble to dig. I put the small rocks around each plant so there wouldn’t be enough space for them. These cats dig DEEP holes! Even if you chase them out of it when you are out there or see them, they will come back to it later. It is a never ending battle with them.

Small Rocks Around Plants

Small Rocks Around Plants

It is not just the stone beds that they are attracted to. The wood beds they destroy too. I am fortunate when I have any plants coming up. Next year I will make sure to plant with the hardware cloth. This year though, I took smaller sizer rocks, but not too small, and put them around each plant. I wish I had done this before I planted another bed of bush beans. If I had, I would have made a circle of rocks and put the seed in the center. Anything else I plant from now on, I will do in that way. Trying to make it uncomfortable for Patches and Hobo to use it for a litter box. Cats in my garden is not a good thing at all. My biggest regret is that I allowed our cats, since we moved here in 1999, to be indoor outdoor cats. Before that my cats were always indoor only cats. It is okay until they get old and you feel it is safer for them to be inside only. They get stressed over you trying to change that status so late in their lives. I gave up on trying to make that change. So I end up living with a lot of stress caused by the choice of so many years ago.

Rocks Keep Plants Safe

Rocks Keep Plants Safe

Over the years, we have saved rocks and stones in a big pile. The paddock is full of rock, big ones too. Our three horses uncover them running around all the time. We try to pick up the rock often. Keeping it stored in one central place makes it easy to work with it when you need various sizes for a project. The cats in my garden is one project that I am hoping will be accomplished with our rocks. When my husband originally built the bed I call the “snake bed” (due to its shape and size, not that it had snakes, though it does), he took the rock out of the area on the house that he hand dug to add a room onto our cellar. These rocks were huge and he had to carry them up a ladder and all the way to our backyard. I should add, without me knowing what he was doing. I was right in the house and he did it without me ever seeing him do it. Then he built that bed and came in to get me to come outside to see it. I was amazed, to say the least.

Cats in my garden

Here comes Patches!

 

Hopefully, I have solved this problem of my cats in my garden and ruining all the new plants. Once the plants get to a larger size, they are pretty safe. We don’t even have wild life in our garden and to think the biggest problem is our own pets is unbelievable to me. My father always had wild animals destroying or stealing his plants and produce. I live in the state forest and don’t even have that problem with any wild critters. We’ll see how this works.

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Copyright © 2016 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2016 Kathleen G. Lupole

I write this blog based on my experience living an off-the-grid life as a modern homesteader. Some of the links you may click or products I recommend may or may not compensate me for including them in my post. Be sure to read my disclosure page if you are concerned about that.


A Homesteader’s Insurance Policy

Peaceful Forest Homestead

Peaceful Forest Homestead

Do you have a homesteader’s insurance policy in place? Almost every time I get disgusted with this life because it is hard or so different from everyone else I know, something happens to reinforce that this lifestyle is the only way to survive. Especially in the times we are living in. News of terrorists attacking people in nightclubs, schools, movie theaters, churches, etc. What that tells me is that for some reason, something inside of me told me to live this lifestyle. To live on our homestead and work from home. To start doing most of our shopping online. I don’t even drive a car anymore, though I plan on getting one in the future. I do not go to crowded places very often. Sometimes I will go with my husband to a nearby city to do some shopping, but usually I go to stores in our area that is more country than city.

Wind Power Today

Wind Power Today


For sixteen years now, we have been building our homestead to be more technical than most homesteaders do. My husband loves new technology. He has always said, “Our homestead is not old fashioned, but the way of the future.” I like that sentiment. Using solar and wind, working online, shopping online, growing our own food, etc. it is all part of the modern technology that enables us to live the way we do. Some of the old technology that many mistakenly think is old fashioned, is just a better way. For instance, our pitcher pump. It was thought of as modern technology at one time. Still working after all this time. Now this year I added a solar oven to our modern technology list of items we use. Not only does it do the cooking, but it can be used to dehydrate food. Instead of using our system to power an electric dehydrator, I can use the sun. All of these tools or methods we use, old fashioned or high technology, are a part of our homesteader’s insurance policy.  

Canning Closet

Canning Closet in Kitchen

An interesting thought we have had is that many things that we did because of moving to an off-the-grid house, that others thought was silly, stupid or too hard to do, have turned out to be the way the general population is going now. Instead of paying an electric, fuel and water bill, we were purchasing more solar panels, more components for this system, a wind turbine to keep power coming in during storms and at night and being able to buy the most energy efficient refrigerator that is built presently. We have been gardening since 1996 and canning our harvests. Now canning has been making a comeback. I am glad to see that. When I purchased my first canning jars from an elderly woman who’s husband had died and she felt she had no need for so many jars, I was excited and looking forward to canning a lot of food. Which I did. I saw the price of the jars go up.  The huge amount of jars that I bought for thirty bucks is unheard of now. Now everyone wants to prepare. To have home canned food in their root cellars, pantries and cupboards. That IS the homesteader’s insurance policy! 

Garden

Food Supply


If you are wondering what exactly is the homesteader’s insurance policy anyway? Well, that is what I am telling you right now. It is when you no longer worry about having food and supplies in your house. It is when you do not have to run out to shop if a storm or other disaster is on the way. It is when you have ways to heat your house, cook your food, store your cold foods, take a shower, wash your clothes, etc. It is when you can be isolated at your home for days, weeks or months at a time and live comfortably and happily. It is when you can go pick up other family members and bring them to your home and it not be a hardship to feed them too. I do not have to read articles or books about prepping, because when I do, I usually know more than they do. We live it every day. If you consider yourself a prepper, start living this way every day, instead of just when there is an emergency. Start using your food supply and replenishing it as you use it. Start up that generator now, so you know how to use it. Cook on that solar oven you bought two years ago and never took out of the box, now. Learn to cook on it this summer by cooking on it daily, so that when you really do need it, you will know how to use it. Good food helps in an emergency!  

Planting a garden

Plant a garden!

Start working on your own homesteader’s insurance policy today! How? Basic needs first:

Water – Store some in food grade containers. Find a way to have a water source in case of an emergency and no power.

Heat – A wood stove will serve three purposes: heating, hot water and cooking.

Food – Plant a garden. Buy food locally in a farmer’s market or at a farm. Learn to can and get started building a pantry of food. Food in a freezer does not count as you can easily lose that in a power outage or a faulty freezer. Besides in an emergency canned food is easier to cook. Get to work on it today!

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Copyright © 2016 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2016 Kathleen G. Lupole


Outhouse Is History Now

Old Outhouse

Old Outhouse

The old outhouse had become an eye sore. It had been falling down for a few years now. I think we were a bit sentimental about the thing. We had never really used it ourselves. At one time, I kept a pet goat in it for his house. It didn’t contain him very well, as he got out often. When we moved here in 1999, we brought with us a SunMar composting toilet. Walking outside at night in total darkness when nobody was home, but Nikita, our dog and me, was not something I had planned on doing. Before we moved in, I had located a composting toilet and we bought it and brought it home to wait for our moving day. So the old outhouse had become a storage shed after a short time of us living here.

Back of the Outhouse

Looking at the back of the outhouse

During the winters, I’d worry that the snow would cause the outhouse to collapse. We would have to remove the snow if it had accumulated too much on the roof. It turned into a good spot to store gasoline cans though. Since we weren’t using it, it had become quite neglected and it showed. This year my husband went to work on cleaning it out. Moving items he wanted to the barn and his work shed. He took a few loads of trash to the landfill. Saved parts of old motors and other items that he decided he did not need or want to keep. He could have sold those loads for scrap metal, but didn’t want to mess with it. Just get rid of it and do it quickly.  

Outhouse Pushed Over

Outhouse Pushed Over

Since the outhouse was built on a rock foundation, he was trying to push it over after he had emptied it out. It was a little too much for him alone. I contributed my strength to the effort and we did it. I was a little sad to see it go, but the time had come and gone for it. Every year we would have a huge amount of bees between the outhouse and the work shed. I’d run past them at times. Snakes lived underneath the outhouse. When you walked out past it, they would be in the grass and would surprise you. Not that snakes worry me. I am not afraid of them. It is just anything surprising you in the grass makes you jump. I am sure I surprised them too!

Outhouse is Down

Outhouse is Down

The stump next to the outhouse is another story. It has an iron bar, like from a bed frame, in it. The tree had grown around the bar. So it can’t be cut with a chainsaw like a normal stump. It is rotting. If I know my husband, he will figure out a way to get it down and out of there. I have been tracing the history of our house and believe it was a hunting camp from at least the thirties, maybe longer. So this outhouse may not have belonged to the original builder of our house, Daniel Loomis. I mean there was not even a hole dug under it. The hunters who used this property as a hunting camp were mostly city people and used hunting as an excuse to get away and party. They littered the whole property terrible with beer bottles and cans and liquor bottles. We have been cleaning it up ever since we moved here.

Cleared and Cleaned

Cleared and Cleaned

At first I did not want to take the old outhouse down because it gives us that ability to “grandfather in” having an outhouse. But does that really matter? It is just the two of us here and we do not have much company. If ever. So what did we really need an outhouse for? In the future, we may put a small outhouse building up and keep a sawdust toilet in it for convenience. Other than that, getting rid of the original outhouse was the right thing for us to do.

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Copyright © 2016 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2016 Kathleen G. Lupole


Taking Down A Big Tree

Big Cherry Tree

Our big cherry tree

Taking down a big tree near a house is a very critical job. I do not recommend doing it yourself unless you are experienced in cutting trees down. A tree can go down in any direction, even the opposite direction of where you want it to fall. Our big cherry tree was very close to our house. The roots were growing underneath our house for many years now. We had already done work on the foundation of the house, which was a lot of hard work for my husband. He decided that it would be best to get the tree out of there, before it caused more trouble for our house and maybe even our well. So after our apple tree had fallen down, he started on this tree as well. I was nervous about it, since it right near the house and because it was so heavy. I am always afraid of a big tree falling on him as he falls the trees. 

Thick Tree Trunks

Thick trunks!

I know many people will wonder about us taking a big tree like this down because of the shade it would give us in the summer. To tell you the truth, as big as it was, it did not provide much shade. When we sat outside, we usually sat under the old apple tree for shade. With that being gone already, we didn’t even consider this tree a source of shade. This made us think about how taking this tree and some others down would improve our garden. So we went outside to put this plan into action. My husband studied this tree and the area around it. To see what it might hit or if he could direct it in a particular direction. He is very careful when doing this type of work.  

 

Notched tree

Notched the tree

He made a notch on the tree that is essential in the way a big tree will go down. Then he worked from there. It took a long time to cut through this thick tree. I was off in the distance with my camera and our cat. I kept her distracted so she wouldn’t run in the area of the tree falling. 

First Half of Tree

First Half of Tree Down!

Standing off in the distance, I heard the familiar crack – then the tree falls over in slow motion. Then crash! It was down. Of course this was just half of this big tree. We decided to wait till this half is cut up and out of the way before doing the other half of it. 

Tree Down!

Tree Down!

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Copyright © 2016 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2016 Kathleen G. Lupole

I write this blog based on my experience living an off-the-grid life as a modern homesteader. Some of the links you may click or products I recommend may or may not compensate me for including them in my post. Be sure to read my disclosure page if you are concerned about that.