Changes On Our Forest Homestead

Peaceful Forest Homestead

Peaceful Forest Homestead

Changes on our forest homestead, that we made this past spring and summer contributed to an easier life  Change is constant no matter where you live or what you do. On a homestead or farm it seems to be a daily happening. Some changes are hard and others are welcomed with open arms. As soon as spring showed up, which took longer than usual this past year, we got to work. There are many jobs on a homestead that are harder if you are living with an alternative energy system, but not impossible. We spend time researching and finding the best methods for making those jobs easier. Surprisingly, some are easier using older methods or tools of the past. Our main objective has been to use less fuels that we have to purchase. The more money we can save on that, we can put into our system to produce more energy. I am not saying that we do not use fuels. We do. We use less than we did, but still buy propane and gasoline.

Snow Wolf

Using the Snow Wolf

In the winter we bought a Snow Wolf from Amazon. It is a snow shovel that used to be called the Sno Wovel. We had been eyeing it for a number of years. Finally ordered it and my husband’s snow shoveling job became much easier and quicker. It is the job he hates the most around here. We do not use a snowblower because he doesn’t want the hassle of constant repairs and fuel usage. Another reason is that our driveway and paths are all dirt and I guess they don’t do such a good job on them. He says they are like lawnmowers, always having some kind of issue or repairs when you need them the most. Well I am happy to say the Snow Wolf took care of that job. 

DIY Generator Wagon

DIY Generator Wagon

To power our batteries when the weather has been rainy or cloudy for days, we have to use a generator. In the spring my husband put together a generator on a cart. That way he could move it back and forth from the barn to the house when it was needed. I used to worry about our generator sitting in front of the house in a little shed that covered it. It would have been easy to steal it after it was unhooked from the line going into the house. If we weren’t home, an easy job. He ordered a steel mesh garden wagon and attached the generator to that. The generator is a DC only type that works well for our off the grid system.

Green Works and Neuton Lawnmowers

Old and New electric lawnmowers

Another big job around here, though I admit, we made it that way, is lawn mowing. By clearing our land around the house, it meant more lawn to mow. If you do not mow your lawn, your pets will have a lot more fleas and ticks. They live in the grass and that is why if you go for a walk in meadows or pastures you need to take precautions not to get ticks on yourself. For years we had been using a Neuton lawnmower which is an electric model and it worked great. Lasted since 2006. It is still usable. The only problem was the batteries are outdated now and even with two battery chargers and four batteries, it was an all day job. Waiting for the batteries to charge gave my husband a break, but he likes to get the job done and not sit around waiting. He purchased the Green Works electric lawnmower with two battery chargers and four batteries. This lawnmower has newer batteries and works like a charm. He loves it. Since it is electric, unless we have to run the generator, the fuel is free. Most lawn mowing is done on a sunny day, so usually the generator is not running burning gasoline. Now the lawn is mowed in record time with no waiting around for a battery to charge.

All American Sun Oven

All American Sun Oven

Back in May, I wrote this post, Cooking With My New Sun Oven. I purchased the All American Sun Oven and started cooking with no fuel, except sunshine. I had my doubts about it. Even the directions that came with it didn’t make it sound that great. Well, let me tell you, this thing CAN COOK! It is now my favorite way to cook a roast. It is amazing how fast it cooks and you will really have to keep an eye on it or it will be overdone. Last winter, my friend, Susie, was showing off all kinds of things she cooked in her sun oven on Facebook. That made me determined to get one. There are some things I don’t like to cook on it, due to my cast iron skillets and Dutch oven being too big for it. I did cook bacon in it, but I like the oven of my propane stove best for that. I made a breakfast of sausage and eggs in it  which came out good.  I used two small cast iron skillets and they fit together real good in it. If you are going to cook roasts and meats, I suggest you get a good meat thermometer to test if it is done. My problem with it was not that anything was underdone, always the opposite. Always my fault for not paying attention to it. This is one the changes on our forest homestead that I am enjoying the most. 

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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.


Cooking With My New Sun Oven

All American Sun Oven

All American Sun Oven


Cooking with my new sun oven is a whole new experience for me. I had never seen one before I bought it. I have been experimenting with some different dishes to see what I can cook and what we really like cooked in it. I do not care for the way it cooks hamburgers, but it may be the cook’s error.  We will stick with cooking them on the stove in my cast iron griddle for the time being. The sun oven is great for most meats though, since I can put them in early and they cook really fast if the sun is out all day. The first food I cooked was hamburgers and they came out like little rocks, because I thought they could not be done that quickly. Indeed, they were. My poor husband, being a good sport ate them all. 

Better Browning Granite Ware

Better Browning Granite Ware

I highly recommend using the granite ware pans for cooking in it. Especially the new Better Browning variety. I ordered two of them and they are my favorite now, aside from my extensive collection of cast iron. Cast iron unfortunately is too big for the sun oven. My little frying skillets fit, but they are the only ones. Besides it is kind of tricky for me getting a pan out without spilling the grease. It has a moving rack inside, so that you can move the oven with the sun and not worry about dumping it inside while moving it. These new Granite Ware pans are so easy to wash! I loved them right after my first use. Not expensive either. I plan on getting a few more of them. They offer a set that includes pie and loaf pans also. So you might want to check them out, even if you are not cooking with a sun oven.

Breakfast In A Sun Oven

Breakfast In A Sun Oven

My plan is to try to use the sun oven as much as possible in the summer so I can cut down our use of the propane. The sun oven is the only way I can see of doing that. The nice thing about it is that I can put a piece of meat in early and we can have supper with hardly any fuss. The most I have to do is keep moving it with the sun. I have it right outside the front door on my porch so it is not a big problem. I am usually right here anyway. In the summer, of course, I am outside working in my garden most days. My favorite meal so far cooked in the sun oven was pork spare ribs. They were outstanding! 

Stackable Granite Ware

Stackable Granite Ware


Now my friend, Susie, (who is responsible for me buying this sun oven, after she kept posting pictures of the food she was cooking in her sun oven on Face Book!) likes the stackable pans. These pans came with the oven when I bought it. I tried them yesterday with the hamburgers, but will try something else to really test them. I think I need to do a casserole to really test this sun oven. We do not eat baked goods, so that is out. I am anxious to try some chicken recipes in it. As soon as I get some good recipes for the sun oven, I will post them here.

 

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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.