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
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Snow is Everywhere

backyard in snow

Our backyard

Snow is everywhere this winter. The cold weather and snow of winter is hard to handle here on our homestead. We don’t use snow blowers or tractors. Not yet anyway! Their time is coming. I see in the future we really need a tractor here to clean up the snow. As we get older, those jobs are harder. It will free my husband up from a job that takes him hours to complete. Then it snows again! Every winter we say this is the worst winter we have had. That is not true though. Winter is always cold and snowy. Always. The only thing to do is to find easier ways to deal with it. Paying someone fifty bucks to come to our house to plow is crazy. The next day the snow would be back. We’d go broke in a month!

Solar Panels and snow

Cleared Solar Panels

Snow has to be removed from the solar panels so the sun will hit them. Snow has to be shoveled from the driveway to be able to use the car or the truck. They have to be cleared off too. If you want to go somewhere, you don’t want to clean them off then. Keeping the snow cleared from the driveway and the vehicles makes life a lot easier. We have paths to our compost pile, so after the barn is cleaned the dirty bedding can be taken there in a wheelbarrow. The area around the well needs to be clear so we can use the pump for our water and the horses’ water (of which, they drink a lot in the winter). The path to the generator has to be cleared so that can be used too. It is used often at this time of year. The path to our satellite dish must be cleared in case the snow accumulates on it. Not to mention the path to the firewood. That must be cleared and kept cleared. We go through a lot of wood with two wood stoves going, one for cooking and one for heating. 

Paths Shoveled

Path shoveled to generator

A long time ago, in my previous life, living in cities was so very different than living in the country. Winter meant worrying about being able to get to work on bad roads. I could always take a cab if I had to, so it wasn’t that big of a worry. When I lived in apartments, the landlords took care of the sidewalks and driveways. Then when I lived in a house, I didn’t live right downtown, so our house didn’t have sidewalks on our street. I believe we paid someone to plow or shovel the driveway back then. It was cheap or sometimes it was a high school student who shoveled it for a few bucks.Times have changed since then. 

Driveway Shoveled Out

Driveway shoveled out

My husband has kept our driveway and paths cleared. It is  hard work, but he pushes himself to do it. He does a wonderful job. I hope we can get that tractor to make it easier soon! 

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


Winter Has Been Rough This Year!

Electricity from the sun

Electricity from the sun!

Winter has been rough this year! I don’t mean to complain, but as we have gotten older, it seems that the cold weather does affect us more.  As the regular readers of this blog know, I have bad knees. My mother and my aunt used to tell me that cold weather made your bones hurt more. I didn’t know what they meant. I know now! It is an ache I can’t get rid of until I warm up. I promised my husband that I will not complain about hot summer weather this year. I am looking forward to it. In fact, if it wasn’t for having pets and horses, I would welcome it. Hot weather is hard on them.

Raised Beds In Snow

Backyard Garden Area

I have been busy planning my garden and that keeps me occupied on the future warm weather. It is just around the corner. My raised beds are covered deeply with snow. I hope the cold winter temperatures helped to kill off the bugs, and especially the fleas. The fleas were horrible last year. I feel they helped to make my cat, Callie’s health decline fast. They feast on older cats who may have an immune system that is breaking down. I have been working on my other two cats’ health now, before the flea season gets here.

Pitcher Pump in Winter

Our Water Supply

I really can’t complain too much about old man winter this year, except that it really was a lot of work for my husband. Shoveling snow is a job I plan on finding some tools to make it easier for him next year. Many people had power outages this year, which of course, we don’t, since we have our own electric system. Down south they had cold weather and some even had snow, which they are not really equipped to handle. Our road crews handle snow every year and it is no big deal to them. People have had their water pipes frozen, and that is worse than not being able to pump it due to a power outage. Our pitcher pump is pretty reliable, as long as whoever uses it last, remembers to drain it back down and pull the handle up. 

Snow Piles

Snow Piles

You can see in the photos just how much shoveling my husband did. Those piles of snow are where he put the snow he shoveled off the driveway and paths. If you don’t shovel it out, it makes it hazardous to walk on. We have to bring hay in twice a month, and he has to be able to get right up to the barn door with that. Going outside at night to give the horses their night hay, you need to have a path, so you don’t fall and break something or drop the hay all over the ground. It is too expensive to waste!

Below zero

Cold Temperatures!

The one thing I do enjoy about winter is the winter birds who come to my deck every morning for a hand out. The chickadees, nuthatches, blue jays and woodpeckers are here every morning. I feed them bones, crumbs, leftovers, but meat leftovers, is their favorite. I try to save something for them every night. They can be very demanding if I don’t have anything to put out there. I used to buy bird seed, but they are particular, and only like black sunflower seeds, and leave the cheap millet behind. So I just feed them what we eat, and they are happy as can be. In spring, they will migrate to the woods for summer and the robins will be back and take over. I don’t have to feed them. Though they love to follow my husband as he mows our yard. I figure those robins will be back soon.  

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


Fall Is Here In NY Already

Fall Coming

Fall Coming!

When fall starts showing up around here, it not usually a slow process. All of a sudden, the leaves are dropping off the trees, even though it may be a hot day. A few days later, the temperatures are cooler and the leaves are turning color. The animals, cats and horses are demanding more food than ever. I can hardly keep up with them. They like to pack the weight on in preparation of winter.

Winter Coat on Horse

Winter Coat on Tawny

It is also the time of year when they start growing their winter coats. I always notice it on the horses first. They haven’t started yet, but I am sure with temperatures of 32 degrees, like I woke up to this morning, it is right around the corner. Keeping your horses free of horse blankets in the winter, will keep their own natural winter coat thick and insulating. Snow will lay on our horses’ backs for a number of hours before it melts. That is because their winter coat insulates them from wet cold weather. (Note: I am NOT saying that is good for ALL horses in general. You know your horse best, and many older or sick horses may need a blanket. Our’s have needed their blankets at times due to injury.).

Split Fire Wood

Split Fire Wood

For people though, the process is much different. We haul out the winter coats, gloves, hats, scarves and boots. We make sure our long johns are still wearable. At our Peaceful Forest Homestead, we have started bringing in some fire wood and kindling. Cutting wood and keeping it close by. Cleaning our wood stoves and making sure the chimney is clean on the heating stove. The wood cook stove in the kitchen has a straight pipe and never needs to be cleaned, because it is always clean. I will be taking the wood cook stove apart to clean the inside the very next warm day we have.

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I will make sure we have foods available that will warm us up. Canning up some different varieties of soups, stews, chili and various other meat type entrees. Since we live on meat and salads in the summer, I have decided to can up some good soups for the winter. We will switch from the salads to the soups for the winter. I usually make them from scratch, but think if I have some canned that are made from scratch by me, that will be a fast food for us.

Cold Temps

Cold Temps To Come!

Planning for cold temperatures and winter in advance makes it a more pleasant winter for all. How about you? Are you in the process of winterizing your home and pantry?

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

 


Cold Weather Makes Chores Tougher

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Cold Temp This Morning!

Cold weather is expected in January and February. This year is no different. Cold weather is here, bringing our temperature down this morning to -9. Then it went down to -12. Now it is up to 10 above. Here in NY we are used to below zero temperatures. That doesn’t mean we like them. We don’t and I am hearing many people telling about having two sources of heat going at the same time. Many have furnaces and are running space heaters or kerosene heaters for the added warmth. Some people have wood stoves and only use them in cases like this. Most of the people I am friends with though, use wood stoves as their main heat source. I say if you want to be warm, you really do need a wood stove. 

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Splitting wood!

For us, winter is always tough. Having to cut, split and carry in firewood. Clean the chimney at least every month. Sometimes more. Prime the water pump, which is not usually a big job, but in these below zero temperatures, it has become a chore. Then pumping and carrying water in the house and to the horses. They drink a lot of water, especially when it is cold. 

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Brrr! Cold!

These are the days when you think back to those hot 90 degree days. I remember my dog and I suffering during the summer in the heat. Next summer, I will remember how cold I was today! I am usually a hot person, always trying to get cool. Even in the winter, I am not one to sit right up beside the wood stove. I even wear summer night gowns during the winter. Not this year! Well, at least not this week. 

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Bundle up!

I have always picked up warm clothes at the thrift stores. Sweat pants, sweat shirts, hunting socks, heavy gloves, boots, heavy robes (especially the ones with zippers), flannel night gowns and pajamas, sweaters, knit hats, etc. I pack them away in a Rubbermaid container for the future. I like flannel sheets, heavy blankets and especially, crocheted or knitted afghans. Warm is better than being cold if you just picked up a few things in the off season. 

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Fire in the wood stove!

Keep Warm!

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


Creosote Builds Up In The Chimney Pipe

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The elbow is at the back of the stove.

Creosote builds up in the chimney of wood stoves.  That is what you hear fall down your pipe at times. If you are heating your home with a wood stove, cleaning your chimney should be a top priority. Do not put it off! My husband does it often. He does not have a set time frame of doing it. Since we burn a lot of wood and our chimney needs to be changed, he has to do it more than some might. We are burning a really dry hardwood this year. It makes a lot of ash in the stove which has to be emptied out when it builds up. 

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Creosote

Creosote collects in the elbows of the stove pipe. When it is cleaned up, an old feedbag is placed underneath the elbow of the stove. As the elbow is pulled apart the creosote will fall onto the paper bag. Then you have to reach up inside the pipe, and make the rest of it in the pipe, fall down through the pipe. Upstairs my husband drops a chain down into the pipe and moves it around a bit. It knocks more creosote down. It is a messy job!

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Worn out elbow needs replacing.

Our chimney needs to be changed from 6″ pipe to 8″ pipe. Our wood stove is very large and needs a larger stove pipe. That pipe will go straight up and out, through the roof from the first elbow. The second elbow upstairs will then be eliminated. Straight up through the upstairs, and out the roof. It will work much better that way. 

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Brand new elbows

Our rain cap needs to be replaced. Then we will not have rust building up in the elbow. The elbows and pipe are replaced from time to time. Triple wall pipe is in the areas where the stove pipe comes up through the floor and the roof. That way the hot pipe has no contact with the wood of the house. That is VERY important!

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Elbow connection

We buy extra elbows and chimney parts to have on hand, just in case we need to replace a part in an emergency. We once had our whole chimney pipe fall down from upstairs, on a Sunday night (when the hardware store was not open) and it was dark and cold! My husband luckily, had parts in the barn to fix it. The elbow had rusted and just gave out. Our wood cook stove has a straight pipe and hardly ever needs cleaning. A straight pipe with no elbows is the best. But we love our big wood heating stove! So we prepare and have plans to fix the pipe this year. That’ll make our job easier!

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


The Beauty Of Fresh Snow

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Fresh Snow Today!

More snow this morning. Not too bad though, since we are all set for the day. It is when you have to go out and do something that the snow hinders us. I hate to drive in snow and I don’t very often. My husband can drive anywhere, even if the road is not plowed. We can always get out of here. 

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Logs covered with snow!

Cutting firewood can be done in the other seasons when you don’t need it. That will build your piles up and in the winter you can just take from that. We don’t do that. My husband does not like to do firewood then and he has his own ways of doing things. I don’t interfere in what he does or how he does it. We are always warm in the winter and that is all that matters.

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My son on the forest path

Keeping paths shoveled to the various places we need to get to is essential. That way we can move around easily regardless of the snow. Our animals like to use the paths and it isn’t often we will see our cats or dog not using a shoveled path. They like it easy. Our dog though, uses the path as her bathroom and so I try to avoid those paths.

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Trees across the road.

 The beauty of the fresh snowfall is something I always looks forward to. No matter how tough the winter is, God gives us something to enjoy along with that. In fact, the work is something we humans have made for ourselves. If we could live without shoveling, driving somewhere in the snow or at the least, having a load of firewood and hay stored for the winter, then I don’t think the winter would be half bad. 

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