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
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Fall In Upstate New York

Homesteading on the Internet

Forest Across the Road


Fall is here in upstate New York! It is a beautiful time of year. For some people, me especially, the cooler temperatures are a welcome relief. No matter how much I try, I just don’t care for hot weather. Hard to believe I lived in Florida and loved it back then. Of course, air conditioning was constant the years I lived there as an adult. Now that I am older, I definitely cannot take the heat. There will be no “snowbirding” or retiring to a warmer climate for me! I plan to stay right here in New York state, and quite happily.

wheel_1000
Fall for me usually is a time of gardening and canning. This year the garden didn’t do so well, so not much work to speak of. I didn’t go the local produce market either, which I usually do. Not enough time this year. I will get back to canning, besides I’d rather get some meat to can and that is something I do all year long. Especially during the winter. This year I am planning on making a variety of fast meals in a jar that are low carbs only. No potatoes, rice or pasta! After the potatoes I have in my pantry are gone, I won’t be buying any more. My husband can eat the last of them as I am not touching them.

Purple flowers

Purple Flowers!


Finding fresh greens outside for a our pet house rabbit, “Rabbit” is almost over with. He has been loving the big variety we find for him every morning and evening. I am hoping to find a source of organic carrot tops for him. They are one of his favorite foods and we had a huge amount growing all summer. He gobbled them up heartily. In the future, we plan to rebuild our deck into a sun room and can hopefully, grow greens all winter for all of us. I will miss the cucumbers too. We do not buy cucumbers in the store very often. We just give them up when the garden is done. This year I didn’t start them inside, which is probably why our garden wasn’t as good as usual. Lesson learned!

Planter

Empty now!


This bed in the picture has our guy wires from the wind turbine inside. These beds were finished early this fall. I have two of these beds and I have written about them in a previous post or two. This one had cucumbers and cilantro growing in it. They did very well. I have considered planting some cold weather greens in these beds and covering them with some heavy plastic. One year we had kale in the garden and left it over the winter. I dug down under the deep snow to harvest some and it was good. Not ruined at all. So I believe I could do that again. If you dig down deep in the snow it is warmer than you think. One year when I was cleaning the outhouse roof off, my feet were deep down in the snow and they were hot. If you walk out into the forest behind us in the cold winter months, you will find little deer beds all over the place. They just scrunch down into the snow and sleep, the mothers with their tiny fawn beds right next to them. Loved seeing that! 

Fall in NY state

Beautiful Fall Days!

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Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole


Preparing For Winter

Peaceful Forest

Peaceful Forest


Preparing for winter is always on a homesteader’s mind. Summer is officially over for me on the Labor Day holiday. It already felt like fall here in upstate New York anyway. The trees surrounding our homestead have been steadily falling and turning color. Fall always means a time to set goals and get to work. Must be my brain associates it with the back to school time period from my youth. Normally, I’d be canning up a storm right now, but our garden didn’t produce as much as it normally does. The weather was the culprit, not I! Does that mean I do not have much food in my pantry this year? No! It doesn’t. Every year, I can as much as I possibly can. The years my garden has produced a lot of vegetables, I did not give them away or throw them out. I canned them. Even when I had summer squash coming out of my ears. I saw it in my sleep……I swear, I did. 

Preparing for Winter

Home Canned Pantry

If you took a look at my cupboard of home canned vegetables, you would see quite a variety. Right now the one thing I am low on is meat and fruit. Soon I will be at my local markets to pick up some to can and that will round out our food supply in no time. Fall is the best time for those delicious NY apples, grapes and pears. Fall is also the best time to purchase local meat from farmers. This is the time they send livestock to market so they don’t have to feed it over the winter. Having a cupboard full of fast food, which is what I call it, makes winter easier, so when preparing for winter, keep that in mind. Especially if you have power outages where you live. I am fortunate not to have any, but that is another story.

Gathering Kindling

Gathering Kindling

My list for preparing for winter this year includes:

  • Firewood – a good size pile to start with. We get more all winter.
  • Kindling – we still have a supply of that, but will get more anyway.
  • Wood Stove – cleaning out the wood stove, if it needs it and the chimney. The chimney my husband cleans all winter long as needed.
  • Gasoline – for our generator and chainsaw. 
  • Fuel Mix & Extra Chains – for chainsaw. 
  • Windows – they are not energy efficient, still have wavy glass. Cover them with clear plastic for extra protection.
  • Wood Cook Stove – take the whole stove apart, piece by piece and thoroughly clean it. The chimney on this stove never needs cleaning.
  • Vehicles – they have been worked on a lot this summer, so should be good to go, unless something else happens to them.
  • Horses – no worry there! Winter is their season………..they live for it!
  • Food & Supplies – always adding more and replenishing what we have used. Lots of home canned foods.
  • Griswold Bolo Oven – Bring it downstairs near the wood stove. We will be baking and roasting in it all winter.
  • Warm Clothing – this is what we need this year. Both of us are lacking in the shoe department. So new boots, shoes, slippers (for me), gloves, jacket and socks and jeans for my husband.

This is about it for us. Preparing for winter gets easier the more years you have done it. It seems to be easier for homesteaders living off the grid. Whatever you do, plan for it and work on it during the summer. Winter will arrive no matter what. In NY, winter is hard so we do what we must.

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Copyright © 2015 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2015 Kathleen G. Lupole

 


Dual Purpose Planters

2014 Butternut Plant

2014 Butternut Plant

Dual purpose planters are all around my forest homestead. Many containers I end up planting in serve another purpose or did at another time. My husband built two planters with rock that he mortared together. These are really meant to keep the guy wires attached to our wind turbine safe. Nobody can accidentally back into them unless they hit the planters. These planters are a good size. Last year I had planted butternut squash in them and it gave us a good harvest. 

Boothby Blonde Seedling

Boothby blonde Seedling

This year, I have planted cucumbers in these dual purpose planters that are deep and warm. Filled with our own compost that has set a number of years to become a rich black dirt. Our plants do well in this dirt.  My idea is to get the plant to attach itself to the wires that go to the turbine. So far the planter out back is doing the best. The one out front seems to be growing in the wrong direction, away from the guy wire. I will have to force that one a bit. 

Mortared bed out back

Mortared bed out back


The type of cucumber I planted in this bed is the heirloom, Boothby Blonde, that I purchase from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds every year. I also buy their Lemon Cuke Cucumber and we like that quite a bit too. They are both good producers. So much so, that we usually eat them for a snack freshly picked from the vines. 

Cucumber plant climbing the wire

Cucumber plant climbing the wire


Every time I checked it, I tried to steer it toward the wires from the turbine which are cemented down deep in this bed.I left the clover growing in here for feeding to our pet house rabbit. A bed like this would be good for a root crop as well. 

Still climbing attached to wire

Still climbing attached to wire

As you can see in this photo the plant attached to the wire and was climbing up the wire. All I did was to check it daily and if was not attached yet, I’d push it closer to the wire and cable. Pretty soon it had attached to the wire. This is not a big cucumber at all and neither is the Lemon Cuke. So when they start growing, they should hang off the plant. If they are hidden on the ground, they rot or are missed when we are picking them. Now if I can keep it doing this! 

Cucumber on Turbine wire.

Cucumber on Turbine wire.

 

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Copyright © 2015 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2015 Kathleen G. Lupole


Wild Edible Plants On Our Homestead

Outdoor Fire Place

Outdoor Fire Place


Wild edible plants surround our Peaceful Forest Homestead! That fact amazes me every year. There are so many plants growing in the forest around us that I couldn’t begin to know them all. I carry my worn copy of  A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and central North America (Peterson Field Guides) with me, when I want to learn about a plant I have seen. I usually bring back one of the plants, the stalk, the flower or berry and some leaves. I will go online and check more than one website that has actual photographs of this plant. I study it carefully, before I decide to indulge in a taste. One taste of a poisonous plant could be your last! I am NOT kidding!

Wild Grape Vines

Wild Grape Vines


That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t sample the wild edible plants growing near you. I like the fact that I can pick them fresh all season, and not have to dry or can them. When the season is done, we go on to other food. These plants will be back in our diet next year. Eating food in that way means that we never get tired of them. We can eat dandelion greens all spring and summer, and then when they are gone, I can dream about eating them again next spring. Berries are abundant in the forests of NY. I think this must be the way early settlers got a supply of fruit for their families. Not only do we have berries to harvest, but plenty of wild apple trees and grapes. 

Wild Berries

Wild Berries


When we first moved here, I didn’t know the first thing about wild edible plants. I learned fast. Our house had the woods growing right up to the back door. What was growing in that area? Wild edible plants of course! Mainly blackberries. Everywhere you could see around our house was blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, Hawthorne berries, choke cherries, raspberries and at least a dozen, old heirloom apple trees. I have the idea that whoever first built this house in 1850, may have planted those old apple trees. He built a wood bin in the root cellar that is attached to the ceiling with no legs to the floor. I think they stored the apples that they harvested from the trees here in that bin. It is one of my favorite things about this house. I made so many berry cobblers and apple crisps and applesauce those first few  years. Eventually we had to clear those areas for the garden and yard.  Then the area to build our barn and paddock had to be cleared too. It didn’t matter, we still have enough.

Wild Edible Plants

Wild Edible Plants


If you plan right, you can make use of the wild edible plants while they are at their peak. I admit to canning and drying many of them, though I don’t really have to. Making juice from the fruits is something I have done and still do quite often. One year you might get a huge harvest and the next two, hardly anything. I have to fight the birds and bees every year for the berries and grapes. They feed off the sweet fruits and they harvest them before they are ready. That is why they usually beat me to it. It is a good way to add to your food supply, since these foods are free, except for the work of picking and cleaning them (maybe fighting the bees too). Do you have any edible wild foods on your homestead? What do you do with them?

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Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2014 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.


The Backyard On Our Homestead

Homestead Backyard

The center of our homestead!

The backyard has become the center of our homestead. We spend a lot of time out there. Not only working, but hanging out and enjoying the forest that surrounds us. It is also an area to work on projects. My husband spends most of his day outside. He mows the lawn and works on the raised beds. I do most of the gardening, such as the planting, weeding and harvesting, though many times he ends up doing that too. He does the hard part……….building the raised beds, hauling compost to fill them and plowing them up with the wheel hoe. That is not all he does in the backyard though. He works on his motorcycle, the lawnmowers, the solar system’s various parts and components, etc. Whatever he needs to do, in the summer, he does it in the backyard.

Stumps are gone

Two stumps that are now just dirt spots.

After taking down another tree, there were three tree stumps in the backyard. My husband had to dig down to the roots to remove them. They were good sized stumps. Now they are in the fire pit for a fire one of these nights. He worked hard on them, as it is not easy work. He didn’t use any type of equipment, except his strength and some manual tools. That was his work-out and he has the muscles to prove it! He likes it to be cleared of stumps so he can mow easily with the lawnmower. It is clear and smooth now, covered with fresh dirt. Soon no one will even know those trees existed.

Fire Pit

Our fire pit

Some people like swimming pools, hot tubs or jungle gyms, but our priority in our backyard is our garden. Raised beds is what I love to look out the window and see. Full of green, healthy plants that will be harvested in a few months and canned or stored fresh for winter meals. Once your garden is in, you can just enjoy the time spent out in it. I do. When I am weeding, I am thinking or sometimes praying. Listening to the birds as they sing and follow me around the garden. The robins are all over the yard all day. I can get pretty close to them, but not too close.

Snake Bed

Snake Bed, not because of snakes, but due to its shape.

I keep telling my husband we need to charge admission and call our backyard a park. It is better than going to one. Especially since we don’t have to drive anywhere. Okay, it would be nice to have a stream or a creek. A pond is nice too. I know that if you have water, you usually have more bugs. I don’t want any more bugs in our backyard than what we already have. That is what the toads are for. They eat bugs. We have more than a few of them, as well as snakes. Though I know for a fact that the snakes will eat the frogs. I had to save one that was being eaten by a snake. I had to take it out of the snake’s mouth. He didn’t appreciate that very much, but the frog certainly did. He hopped away as fast as possible! 

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Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole

 


Homestead Projects In the Springtime

Wood raised beds

Wood beds on side of house.

Homestead projects for the springtime are being worked on and some, even finished. I transplanted my seedlings into the garden the past couple of weeks. We have been having a tough time around our homestead these last couple of months. I was so excited that I could finally plant my garden, but there have been other things raining on my parade, so to speak. For one thing our electric lawn mower broke and it appears it needs replacing. I think my husband wore it out. He mows a lot of lawn here and most people use these for a small area. I keep telling him I can add more raised beds…………the more the better!

Tomato Plants in containers

Tomato Plants in containers.

Another homestead project is how I can grow tomatoes this year to produce. We need them! I planted my tomatoes in containers last year, but didn’t use deep enough containers. They need to be really deep. As deep as you can get. I am using the ones you see here. If I had access to 50 gallon drums, I’d use them. These will do, I hope. Ever since we started getting the Late Blight, I have not grown any tomatoes except for cherry ones. I used to grow two or three rows of tomatoes in the wood beds along the side of the house. I remember having bushels of them. We even brought in the last of them in the fall, before a hard frost was coming, and packed them in two big bushel baskets covered up with newspapers. I always had jars of home canned tomatoes and sauce. Now I haven’t had my own home grown tomato in a few years. What happened? Is this a result of GMO spores in the air? Seems fishy to me.

Bush Beans

Bush Beans

My hubby worked hard last fall taking down two trees that shaded this area of our backyard. Now the raised beds he rebuilt back there look awesome. I love it and hopefully, our garden will take off soon. It is really nice to have more room to plant in. The raised beds weren’t producing as well due to the trees’ roots in the beds, and the shading, of course. We still have shade back there, but not over the bed. I have moved the bush beans to this area to give the other beds a rest from beans this year. It is not good to plant the same plants over and over in the same area or raised bed.

Transplants

Ready to plant in the garden!

How is your garden doing this year? Hopefully, everyone can get a garden in. Not only is the food in the stores expensive, but now it is all GMO  and not safe to live on. Kind of scary times we live in. My list of homestead projects never gets shorter though, the more I do, the more I think of do. What about you? How are your homestead projects coming along? 

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Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole


Building A Homestead Barn

Homestead Barn

Building our barn!


When we moved here in 1999, there was no barn. And no yard and basically, just a house and an outhouse. So we had a lot of work to do to make this place our home. We did not really mind that we had no electric coming to it. And it was very quiet here at that time. We had both been influenced by Backwoods Home Magazine and some other homesteading magazines. None of that really bothered us as we were not using a computer at that time. We had one, but it was packed away for the time being.

Building The Second Floor

Building the second floor


How can you have a homestead if you do not have a barn? My husband had been piecing it together one little bit at a time. Once we had the horses here, then he knew he had to get started for sure. My horse, Georgie Girl badly wanted a barn. So he built our lean-to which is right next to the spot he wanted to put the  barn. Soon that was built and they were using it, but the barn was just a basic frame of what he wanted. The biggest problem was that there was no place to put the hay or the tack. 

Barn Stairs

Nikita’s favorite spot!


Our horses took interest in the barn going up. As did our dog, Nikita, who was jealous of the cats who went up on top of the frame of the roof. It was a happy day indeed, for Nikita, when my husband came in to get her to see the new stairs he had built while she was in the house sleeping. She was so excited! I can still see that day in my mind, now, long after she is gone. After the stairs were up, she could go up on the second floor and help with the building. She always felt she was needed up there with my  husband.

Building the second floor!

Building the second floor!


Soon it was up and the animals were all happy. I think they were happier than we were. Having a good dry place to store the hay was pretty nice. Up until then we had been storing it in our old Ford van. It worked, but made the yard look ugly. I was happy to see it hauled out of here. Now our horses have been used to having a barn that they can go in and out of whenever they choose. Changes around here always improve our life.

Cat on Top of Barn

Hobo liked being on top!

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Copyright © 2013 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2013 Kathleen G. Lupole


Summer Projects Are Being Completed Every Day

Our House

Our House

Summer Projects are being completed! This summer we have started working hard on various projects that were on hold. Last year at this time, my father was in the hospital and then in August he passed away. After that my husband and I spent months cleaning out his house. No one helped us except my cousin. My son helped by lending me money to pay for dumpsters and some other expenses, and by staying at our house with Nikita. At that time, she was elderly and summer was rough on her. She had gotten to the point where you had to let her out when she had to go, or else. So he did his part by us.

Max

Max

This summer so far, has been time spent on our own projects. My son moved into his own apartment and is now happy with his own space. Not easy to live with other people when you are all grown up. Everyone needs their own home. As you can see from this picture, my husband got our wind turbine up and installed. It was spinning today when we came home! July isn’t a real windy month, but around September we should start seeing some action.

Peaceful Forest Barn

“The heart of the homestead is the barn.” ~ Larry Lupole

Our horses never even noticed the turbine going up or after it was up. They never look up! Not even when a helicopter flies overhead. Must be it doesn’t occur to be important to them. I was waiting to see some reaction from them when it started spinning. None. Oh well, maybe that is a good thing.

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm

I will be getting a lot of canning down in the next weeks. So expect to see lots of photos of my various projects. Canning is my favorite part of homesteading! I must have inherited that from my grandmother. She canned every year and my mother said she canned every day when she came home from work. I bought the newest Ball book just to have the latest directions. They are always updating. 

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Copyright © 2013 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2013 Kathleen G. Lupole


My Forest Homestead – Homesteading in the Forest

Peaceful Forest Path
My forest homestead is small, but can be very productive if efficiently run. I see many areas that are open to improvement. We do not raise animals for food. I have not ruled that out completely. Sometime, I may add a small laying flock of hens. Other than that, I do not even want to add others. At our ages, early sixties, my husband and I do not want to increase our work load. Presently we are in the process of lessening it. I am becoming a minimalist homesteader. Getting rid of everything I don’t use or need and living simply. 

Rainbow Over Homestead                                                         
I read quite often, on my favorite forum, Homesteading Today how others recommend new homesteaders should buy large acreages. Many people think that is the only way to homestead. Actually, they are more like farms than homesteads. In the old days, I believe they’d refer to these small farmers as being “gentlemen farmers,” and that is what people called my husband’s grandfather. I would call him a homesteader now. You do not need to go by other people’s rules or conditions to be a homesteader. You can do it anywhere you want, and on however much land you can get. It doesn’t matter one bit what someone on a forum says! 

Resident Snake                                                                                        
Gardening in raised beds is easier. I can work out there without the assistance of  a tractor or rototiller. Our beds only need to be plowed up in the spring and fall with a wheel hoe. A wheel hoe uses no fuel except your own. I can even do it and I have really bad knees and have to use a cane to walk. Intensive gardening is really the key. Filling the beds with as much food as possible. Drown out the weeds with plants for food! Depending on what they are built of, watering is easier and so is the maintenance on the beds themselves. My rock beds hold the warmth from the sun throughout the cool night. 

Hobo
It is good to grow your own food and try to supply all your family’s needs. Sometimes it is easier than others. If you are young and just starting out, talk to the older homesteaders and find out how it will be when you are in their shoes. Time passes quicker than you think! 

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Copyright © 2013 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2013 Kathleen G. Lupole