Water, Food, Heat and Shelter

Homestead

Homestead

Water, food, heat and shelter are your priorities when living anywhere, but especially when you are living a homesteading lifestyle. Electric, internet, computers, telephone and television are not on that list. With good reason too. You do not need them to survive. I too, love my computer and internet connection. But could I live without them? Certainly! I have lived without them in the past and could easily do so again. 

Pitcher Pump

Pitcher Pump


If you have a good water source where you live, then count yourself very blessed. Water, food, heat and shelter is basically routine chores for us. I have seen through many of my Facebook friends, and on homesteading blogs and forums, that not everyone can count on a water supply. Our homestead has a shallow well with a pitcher pump. I do not take it for granted as something could happen to it at any time. That is why storing water is something we do. When our root cellar is finished, we will have more stored than presently. No matter how good your supply is…………please, store some today!

Summer Squash

In our garden

The next part of the equation  of water, food, heat and shelter is food. None of us want to go without that! Good food is central to a happy homestead. Not many people would want to live off-the-grid if it meant they couldn’t have a decent supply of food. The key is to grow what you eat. And stock up on what you don’t produce yourself. Our garden plays a big part in our food supply. 

Jewel Wood Cook Stove

Jewel Wood Cook Stove

The next component of  your homestead is heat. Of course, it depends on where you live, as to how big of a heating source you will need. Living here in upstate NY, we need a good, dependable source. Presently we use two wood stoves. One for heating and one for cooking. You can cook on the heating stove. Then you would only need one. Heating with wood gives you the independence of supplying your source with the fuel. Instead of purchasing fuel from an outside source, if you have wood on your property.

Peaceful Forest Homestead

Peaceful Forest Homestead

Your shelter is your house or dwelling where you live. It all comes together there. Staying cozy, well fed with plenty to drink, cook and clean with. Feeling safe and secure from the outside world or civilization in your own home, is the ultimate independence we are all looking for. See how planning ahead for your water, food, heat and shelter comes together in the end? Your homestead should be your haven or safety net. Plan for it now!

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

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How Those Ten New Panels Did This Summer

Solar panels wind turbine on barn roof

Sunshine & Wind Power!

Are you wondering how those ten new panels did this summer? We had a few sunless days last week, but for the most part, sunshine daily. This summer has been crazy! Crazy as far as our weather goes, that is. We had a cooler summer than usual. Quite a bit of rain too. Our garden did great. We didn’t have to water it, but one time, that I can think of. 

Fifteen Solar Panels

Dark clouds overhead!


To answer your question, those ten new panels have done an amazing job! We have not run our generator once this summer. Not one time! I can tell you, that has saved us a lot of money at the gas pump. Didn’t have to hear that roaring sound outside, or smell the fumes of that gasoline motor. I always hated that sound. One of the things I have loved about living in the forest, is not hearing all that noise you hear in other places. Just the birds singing. We don’t even hear airplanes except at night, or the occasional helicopter keeping an eye on the state forest (so nobody starts a forest fire).

State Forest

The field beyond our paddock.

I realize our Peaceful Forest Homestead will always be an ongoing project. We both think of new things we want to do, and how to improve our life here. We are both older now, and want things a bit easier. I was tempted at one point last year, to move to a grid-tied home. I have changed my mind on that. How could I live like that after living here for fifteen years? It would be such a step down! This really is THE life! I think our ten new panels is what made the difference. 

Trimetric Meter

Watching the charging light!


Watching our Trimetric meter’s little green charging light has been a lot more fun since we got these ten new panels. I am not saying you can’t live with a smaller system. We did, and we could again. It is just that once you build your little system larger, you really do appreciate those items you didn’t have enough power to use before. Which items? I will be writing about those in the very near future. So stay tuned! 

Solar Baby

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.

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Living The Off-The-Grid Lifestyle

Peaceful Forest Homestead

See the outhouse to the far right?

People are always asking me, what do I mean by the “off-the-grid lifestyle?” What is it? What do you mean by “lifestyle?” For most people who do not live off the grid, they have no idea what that means. Yet I think, it intrigues them. Is living off the grid that much different than living on the grid or grid-tied? I had to think a minute on that one. YES! It is definitely different, much different. YES, it is definitely a lifestyle!

Forest Morning

Morning

The truth of the matter is that when we moved into this house on my birthday, June 24th, 1999, I had no idea what was in store for us. It was like camping. Or at least vacationing in a cabin in the forest. I’d say to myself, “this is the off-the-grid lifestyle.” It was a fresh new way of life. For me, it was totally different from my previous life. What was so different? At that time, we did not have a generator or our solar system. It was different!

Peaceful Forest

Peaceful Forest BEFORE the tornado in 2000!

This house came with a propane refrigerator and it worked fine. It had a gas light on the wall, one that used a mantle. We had been preparing in advance of moving here so we had quite a nice collection of kerosene lamps. We preferred to use those. There was a small propane cooking stove. We brought our little antique propane cooking stove with us. It wasn’t long before we had that hooked up, and was cooking in style. So we were set!  

Pitcher Pump

Our Water Supply

What about the water? Well, the water had to hand pumped by using a pitcher pump. It is right outside the front door, so not that far to get to. One of the first things my husband did was to install drains to the bathtub, (that we brought with us when we moved in) and the sink in the kitchen. That way, we could pour water in the bathtub and the sink, and let it go out through the drains. I appreciated that little fact so much over the years! 

Antique Gas Stove

Antique gas stove that we used for a period of time.


In the first years of living here, we took outside showers. Yes, nobody ever drove down our road. We were really alone out here back then. There was no bathroom here. The former owners were planning on making the room off the kitchen, that leads to the cellar, a bathroom. They just hadn’t gone any further than setting a toilet in there, but never hooked it up. We had bought a SunMar composting toilet before moving here, so we set that up in the tiny downstairs bedroom. That became our bathroom. My husband set our claw foot bathtub up in there and oh, boy, I could take baths! Living off-the-grid didn’t seem so hard once we were actually living it. Planning for it was essential! 

Solar Baby

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.

Posted in Off-The-Grid Homestead | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Solar System Harvester Control Panel 1


Solar Panels on Barn Roof

I have told you many times on this blog, my husband has put together our small solar system himself. He had to figure it all out and make sure it worked. We have never had to have someone else come and work on our system. The couple of times that someone else, that we knew, did some minor changes to it…………our solar system ended up not working. Like in having the alternator on the generator constantly having to be replaced! Twice! The guy at Backwoods Solar wanted to know what the heck happened. He helped us figure it out. Or having our inverter blow up (I kid you not)! The rule around here now, is that NO ONE ELSE Is ALLOWED TO TOUCH OR WORK ON IT!!!!


Here is the first video my husband has made show casing our solar system and some of the work he has done. As you will see, there is more to building your system than just putting a few solar panels up, and hooking them to the house. Oh no, don’t laugh! Many people have asked me this. Solar systems are not that hard to build, but there is more to it than that. This is the first video of more to come! If you’be be nice enough to go to uTube and “Like” it there, I’d appreciate it very much.

Barn with Solar Panels

Solar System on Our barn

If you are considering an off-the-grid home with your own solar system, what kind of concerns do you have? Are you afraid you won’t be comfortable living with your own system? Especially without the security of back up electric? You know, I feel more secure than I ever did on the power grid. Let me know what you are worried about, and I will try to research it and write a post about it for you. 

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

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Hiring a Professional Cleaning Service

House Cleaning

Houses need cleaning!

Hiring a professional cleaning service is not something you do every day. Many times the need for one arises suddenly. So you need to find a reputable company quickly. The Steam Team, who is located in Austin, TX, supports the “green” movement and has an outstanding reputation. They stand behind their work and give you a 100% money back guarantee, if you are not satisfied. Living with wood stoves and pets, and just general country living can accumulate dirt and dust in your home. Smells and chemicals have always irritated me, so I would look for a company that does not use harsh chemicals. They use completely biodegradable, non-toxic cleaners that are completely natural. Safe for the environment, as well as your pets and family.

Living Room carpet cleaning

Carpet cleaning

What kind of cleaning jobs does The Steam Team offer? Just about every kind you can think of. Fire damage for one. I have seen the damage a fire can do and the clean up afterwards can be horrendous. My best friend had her house burn, and if it wasn’t for the cleaning professionals, it would have held up the rebuilding of the house for months. Included with the smoke and fire restoration, they do emergency pre-cleaning, content cleaning, content pack-out, walls and ceiling cleaning and deodorization.

Living Room Drapery cleaning

Drapery cleaning too!

They do many other types of cleaning jobs as well. Such as carpet, upholstery, leather and drapery cleaning. Floors take a beating on our little homestead and hiring a cleaning service to do a yearly cleaning is very beneficial. The Stream Team will do Oriental rug cleaning, pet odor treatments, natural stone and ceramic tile cleaning and marble polishing. Whatever you need cleaned or restored after a disaster, they can and will do it. 

I was compensated by The Steam Team to write this blog post.

Solar Baby

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.

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New Pictures!

Solar Panels

FINALLY!!!

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Solar Panels Make Me Smile!

5 Solar Panels - 2.050 KW

15 Solar Panels & Wind Turbine – 2.050 KW

Solar panels were needed to increase our power available. So our energy system has expanded considerably since last year. We added our wind turbine last July. Even though we bought these ten solar panels last fall, we just got them up on the barn roof and all installed. It was a job for sure. Now our energy system has increased to 2.050 KW. 

Solar Panels in boxes

Solar Panels arriving by truck!

The solar panels arrived by truck, and the driver could not drive over our little bridge, so my husband had to meet him on the other side. There they were! All boxed up and looking quite impressive. I could hardly believe that we were going to make a dent in our system, as to increasing our power. Oh boy!

Solar Panels

At least we are able to use them down here.

Our generator had died, so my husband had to get to work on fixing that. In the mean time, we had no power. So he hooked up the new solar panels on the ground, till he could get them up on the roof. Then our power coming in every day would generate from the solar panels, and not need the generator. As long as the sun was out, we were good!

Adding panels

Adding panels

As you can see, it was quite a process to get the solar panels up there. Thank the Lord, nobody got hurt doing this dangerous job. It is not for the weak of heart. One solar panel might look light, but for one person carrying it up the ladder, all the way up the roof……well, believe me, it is not an easy job!

Solar Panels

FINALLY!!!

The end to this story is…….it will never end! As we want more conveniences, such as a freezer and the power for an induction oven, we will definitely need more solar panels. I love the panels as they work for long periods of time. Never making a sound, unless you count the sound of the batteries bubbling as they become charged with more power. The wind turbine goes on and off with the wind. Though it does work during the night and during storms. It all adds up to more power and that means we can use electric pretty much whenever we chose. Now for the water system………….

Solar Baby

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. 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.

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I Get My Electricity From The Sun!

Solar Baby

Our road

I get my electricity from the sun, but it is not always out. We have to adjust to how much power is coming in every day. Our life here, after fifteen years, has changed often. We have gone through good periods and bad. One thing I have to say though, it has never been dull, boring or trivial. Life is what you make it and we have made our life more interesting than that day to day existence that many people experience. I am not putting your life down, if that is how you feel about your life. But I know how that is. I lived it myself! 

Guy Wire Planter

Guy Wire Planter

Building our energy system little bit at a time, made it more affordable for us. We never had much money to work with, so we found ways to do this. One panel bought on eBay would be added to our system when it could be. Or we’d save for some components to expand the system. We purchased most of those in the earlier years from Backwoods Solar. Over the years, we bought from a variety of online stores. My husband did some web work in exchange for our battery bank of 24 batteries. Soon electricity was constant and we had plenty of power for our needs.

A Homestead in the forest

A Homestead in the forest

To get electricity from the sun, many people thought we’d never generate enough power. Not enough to live off our system, since we are completely surrounded by huge trees in the state forest. Well, they didn’t know my husband! He worked hard these fifteen years to clear the area around us. Working with a crushed right arm, so it took him longer than it would have before. So little by little, we have been able to add more things to our home. To tell the truth though, some things I thought I wanted, now I feel like I don’t need them. I am used to this “off-the-grid” life the way it is right now. Well, most of it………..

Adding panels

Adding panels

Adding more panels means more electricity is being generated. I look forward to being able to bring the water inside our house, being pumped by our water pump. It will be powered by our system, powered by solar and since last August, wind. The reason we do it, is for independence. Our independence is important in these times we live in. Independence will be gone for most people in a few years, and for some, it already is.  What about you? 

Solar Baby
I write this blog based on my experience living an off-the-grid life. 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.

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

 

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The Sun Rises on Our Solar Panels Too!

Peaceful Forest Homestead

Peaceful Forest Homestead

The sun rises on our solar panels too! Solar panels are in the news today. This is because the president has finished a project he started in 2010, of installing solar panels on the white house roof. This is one topic I must agree with him on. All public buildings and schools too, should have their own alternative energy systems in place by now. The US is way behind other countries in this. I see the American people whining about solar panels and paybacks. They whine about electric cars. Then they turn around and get angry about electric and gas prices. I say, “do something about it………..NOW, while you can!”

Solar panels being installed

More panels going on roof.

 Now that our weather seems to be “officially” spring, my husband has been working really hard on our solar system. He wants to get the new solar panels up on the barn roof. As you may be able to see in my photos, in the morning sun, the ones on top are getting all the sun. The ones on the ground don’t get any till a little bit later. At least they are working, but when they get on the roof, our power will increase immensely.

Country Road

Solar enables us to live in the middle of the forest.

There is a lot more to installing a solar panel than just putting it on the roof. It has to be wired correctly and carefully. Remember these things are electrical devices and when the sun hits them, they can be deadly. Especially for the person doing the installation. You really need to know what you are doing, or hire someone who does. Living with your own off-the-grid system makes you really independent. You are responsible for your own power usage. You learn to frugal with the electricity you use and appreciate the new things you can add. 

Our Generator

Our generator charges DC only.

The more panels we can buy and put up, the less we need to use the generator. You should use your generator very rarely. That is our goal. I am sure this summer we will have plenty of power to spare. That means we will have our water hooked up and running in the house. In fact, a few days ago, I cooked a pot roast with my slow cooker. Now that is amazing to me!

Solar Baby

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

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Propane Has Nothing To Do with Being Off-The-Grid!

Utility Grid

Utility Grid


Why do people think using propane has anything to do with being off-the-grid? They are two completely different things. Off-the-grid means you are not hooked up to the electric utility grid. The last time I looked, my propane company did not have any wires to connect our house to any grid. One has nothing to do with the other. People always try to make rules………..must be the nature of people. There are no rules. I don’t follow someone else’s rules for being a modern homestead or for living off-the-grid. 

Off-The-Grid Homestead

No connections to power lines!


In fact, many of the people who write or post about this subject, don’t even live off-the-grid. Or at least not full time. They use vehicles with gasoline to get back and forth to their homes. I don’t say to them, you are not off-the-grid because you do not power your vehicle with electric generated from your alternative energy system. I don’t do that yet, but I plan to. Just like someday, I plan on getting rid of my propane stove or at least only use it for canning. But maybe I will find my system will not allow me to use any other type of stove. I need to can, more than I need to worry about someone’s interpretation of what living off-the-grid means. 

In The Middle of the Forest

No wires along our road! Off the grid!


People have the misconception that off-the-grid means you live in a little cabin and don’t have the internet or telephone, make all your own clothing, don’t ever go to a store or buy anything from the outside world. That is not what it means people! It means you are not hooked up to the electric companies’ power lines. That is all it means. Because people cannot imagine living that way. If you use propane, feel free to use it. It is not part of the power grid. Not one bit!

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

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