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


Our Forest Homestead In New York State

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Forest makes up much of NY state

Most people who have never been to New York state associate the rest of the state with New York City. Many times they think we haven’t even seen a cow or a tree! New York state is a big dairy state and has lots of farmland all over the whole state. New York City actually makes up a very small part of the state as a whole. New York state also has acres and acres of state forest and state parks. Trees and mountains make up much of our Empire state. I always thought we should have been called the Forest State! I have traveled all over the whole country, and believe me, have not seen such a welcoming sight as the green mountains of Pennsylvania and New York! Taxes may be high, but we get plenty of rain and our beautiful forests in return.

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New York farm land!

Our Peaceful Forest Homestead is in the middle of the state forest in upstate New York. Our only neighbors, besides the wild kind are hunting camps. Our home was originally a farm and in 1924 became a hunting camp, until we purchased it in 1999. The house is what is called a Greek Revival style house and was built in 1850. In fact, when my husband was working on digging out a room connected to our cellar, he found a 1848 penny! My treasure! It may have belonged to the smart man who built our home. I have wondered about him many times through out our years here.

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In 1999

Our small piece of land is totally surrounded by the state forest. That means there are many large trees around us. The forest is very thick, and every now and then it is logged to thin it out. At first we didn’t like it when they did that, but now we see the value of it. We have done that on our land ourselves. The woods came right up to our house and had to be cleared for gardens. All the roads leading to our house are dirt but are well taken care of. Our road looks like a trail through the woods. Sometimes the grass grows in the middle of it and I like that. The forest keeps it cool out here, so when everyone else is sweating the summer weather, our home is usually about 10 degrees cooler.

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Over the bridge and through the woods…….

We had searched for over four years for our place. Both of us loved the forest, and used to drive through state forests in both New York and Pennsylvania. We would see homes in the middle of the state forest, and say, “How did they get a house in the middle of the state forest?” Now people ask me that question! My answer is “Keep searching!” They are out there.

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Nikita in front yard and paddock in 1999.

At first, I did not realize that the house was off the grid. Then I did not realize from looking at the listing that it did not have plumbing. No running water! No bathroom! It had an outhouse quite a distance from the house though. Before we moved here we purchased a claw foot bath tub. Then a Sun-Mar composting toilet. The bath tub, my husband found at an antique store when he was out driving a truck for his company making deliveries. He stopped and put a deposit on it. Exactly what we wanted! The Sun-Mar I found in our local Pennysaver for sale, used for $200. I called about it and they said someone else had called, and whoever got there first with the money could have it. We drove right there and came home with our new composting toilet.

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State Forest

The day we moved in we found out that the previous owners had left all their furniture in the house. We had a moving van full of our stuff which would not fit with their stuff. We were trying to move in during a downpour, because we had to get the rental moving truck back. My son, Jeffrey helped us and stayed with us for a few weeks which was a big help. We had to unload the van and take it back the next day. So we had to put our things in the house with all that extra stuff. Not an easy job! So the first thing after returning the truck was to haul things to the landfill, that we had to pay for! Not what we were expecting to do. We managed to get all moved in and were happy to be in our new off-the-grid homestead!

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Copyright © 2013 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2012 Kathleen G. Lupole


In The Middle Of The Forest

My Favorite Road

If you are new to this blog I thought I’d tell you a little about me. I live on a small off-the-grid homestead that is surrounded by the state forest. This forest is very thick, though it has been logged in recent years. In 2000, a year after we moved here, a tornado came through our area and took down over 300 trees. It helped us with clearing our land and getting firewood, but we’d rather have done it ourselves on our own schedule!

Dirt Road Through the Forest

All the roads leading to our house are dirt but are well taken care of. Our road looks to me like a trail through the woods. Sometimes the grass grows in the middle of it and I like that. The forest keeps it cool out here so when everyone else is sweating the summer weather, our home is usually about 10 degrees cooler.

Logging

I know many people are against logging the state forest, but I see its value. The forest came right up to the backyard, almost to the house when we first moved here. We had to clear it for our garden, barn and paddock. Many times the younger trees die because the bigger trees’ canopies block them from getting any sunlight or even rain. So for the new trees to grow and give the larger trees more room to spread out, they need to be pruned/logged to develop. Otherwise, they all die.

Snowfall

I never get tired of living in the forest. In winter it is even more beautiful. I love the silence of the snow in the forest. In the spring, it is alive with returning birds and new plants and leaves. In the summer, it is abundant with life and food if you know what to look for. In fall, the colors of the trees and the birds filling up with food to make the trip down south. The forest rocks all year long!

katlupe

 

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