Speaking of Harvey Wiensten. Don’t be a scuz bag.

Simple rule don’t get all rapey/sexual assault and stuff just because they can “get away with it for a time”  Women be truly brave and call out those assholes.  Learn welding so you are not beholden to those types of men.  There are a lot of great guys that will not require you to serve these types sexual predators.  If the man in your life won’t protect you then you must protect yourself.  Trust me carrying even a small 9mm can give you all sorts of confidence.

I was in the ARMY and no man thought a bought sexually harassing me. I had a gun and 50 big brothers that made that shit stop.

Lumber cost are up about 30% so far compared to July.

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Lumber costs are going up and I talked to a cashier at Home Depot and she says the store is having trouble finding suppliers for lumber.  While I don’t like paying higher prices , the pressure treated boards I bought seem to be of better quality.  Much less warping and bows in the 2x4s overall.  Picking out lumber was much quicker compared to July 2017.  Of course fire wood racks don’t need the highest quality lumber but it is nice that paying a higher price also includes a better quality of lumber.

Speaking of Home Depot, I saw a story about many of our young people are clueless about how to use a tape measure for simple projects.  I can just imagine how Millennials are clueless about using basic power tools….   We have failed this generation!  If you know basic home economics or are a handyman this might be a great opportunity for a “side gig job” to help those kids around the house.  Honestly, Home Depot is putting out classes on how to mow a lawn!  While Idaho kid have not learned this level of helplessness. I know that young people have helped me out for the use of tools to jobs around their homes or apartments.  Many of these kids want to be self-reliant they just don’t know how to do it!  They see failure as a bad thing, rather than something to embrace as part of the learning process.  Learning what not to do is as important part of learning what to do in the future.

I’m learning that on the garden. I thought about adding fencing and a lot of other thing but what I need is a taller (18-24 inch) raised bed that is easy to easy to weed and is pet proof for my little digger dog.  Why build a fence when you could put that money into taller raise garden beds the critters can’t get into in the first place?  Plus taller beds are easier to weed, so it is a WIN/ WIN.

Thinking “outside the box” is a critical skill!  I think I’m pretty good at it, but even I have many moments of why didn’t I think of that….?  Also remember that if you always seek doing things perfectly you will never find that “good enough” quite often moves you forward to perfect.  Gosh if I always waited till things are “perfect” I’d never get anything done.  I can’t speak for others but I tend to learn best by failure.  So I seek out failure and then work my way towards perfection.

Coldest night of the season for cleaning the chimney.

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It hit 28 degrees F. in Nampa last night but we had a frost warning so Mom and I covered the plants against frost.  Another frosty night is coming Thursday so I will be pulling the plants this weekend and get the garden cleanup started as the growing season seems to have come to an end.   I also got the chimney cleaned today so we did not use the wood stove for heating the house in the morning.    Instead we used a couple of electric space heaters just warm the house up.  I don’t care what anyone says, wood heat feels warmer than electric heat even if the temp. gauge reads the same temperature.  Perhaps it is a throw back to our cave man past.

The chimney sweeps got the stove cleaned and added another pipe section to the chimney stack that got well clear of the roof line and works around a large front yard tree.  The triple walled Stainless Steel stack sort of stands out on the roof but the wood stove is drawing much better compared to the “city code” approved stack.  It is a bit of over kill for the wood stove but I think the cost going beyond “city code” is worth it if it makes the wood stove burn cleaner and is safer.  After my last few chimney cleanings the “Sweeps” have told me that creosote build up has been minimal.  Adding the extra stack to make wood stove draw more air and keep the pipes clear of creosote is a good thing in my book.

We have burned a bit off poplar along with some elm and cherry today and  I’d say the poplar ash and wood smoke is comparable to burning elm.  Goodness knows burning an apple or cherry wood does smell much better in comparison.  I think I’m the only one on the block that relies primarily on wood heat and right now that is very noticeable.  In a couple of weeks my fire wood smoke smell will only be one among many.  I had someone come up to me while working in the front yard and tell me how they loved that wood smoke smell as it smelled like Fall.

Mom and I dug up the sweet potatoes and the first thing that happened is Tucker the Peke went into doggie rototiller mode and had to dig up that bed.   I don’t mind to much but his digging site selection but he tends to go after my Marigolds when given access to my garden area.  I’m working on a taller raised bed concept for next year that will be easier for me and will not require temporary fencing to keep the doggies from digging plants up.

Last but not least if you have nicotine stained walls and apply heat and lots of humidity those stains will start running down those walls.  I want to clean those walls but I can say after my high heat and high humidity experiment curing sweet potatoes  in a small bathroom as a bonus all nicotine smoking tar stains ran down the wall.   If you are cleaning a home of a smoker you might want to try enclosing the room, put in a small humidifier and a small electric heater for a couple of days before you wash the walls and paint with Kill-Z.  I’m not sure that will help with the smell but I can say it will make cleaning the dry walls much easier.

Coldest night of the season for cleaning the chimney.

It hit 28 degrees F. in Nampa last night but we had a frost warning so Mom and I covered the plants against frost.  Another frosty night is coming Thursday so I will be pulling the plants this weekend and get the garden cleanup started as the growing season seems to have come to an end.   I also got the chimney cleaned today so we did not use the wood stove for heating the house in the morning.    Instead we used a couple of electric space heaters just warm the house up.  I don’t care what anyone says, wood heat feels warmer than electric heat even if the temp. gauge reads the same temperature.  Perhaps it is a throw back to our cave man past.

The chimney sweeps got the stove cleaned and added another pipe section to the chimney stack that got well clear of the roof line and works around a large front yard tree.  The triple walled Stainless Steel stack sort of stands out on the roof but the wood stove is drawing much better compared to the “city code” approved stack.  It is a bit of over kill for the wood stove but I think the cost going beyond “city code” is worth it if it makes the wood stove burn cleaner and is safer.  After my last few chimney cleanings the “Sweeps” have told me that creosote build up has been minimal.  Adding the extra stack to make wood stove draw more air and keep the pipes clear of creosote is a good thing in my book.

We have burned a bit off poplar along with some elm and cherry today and  I’d say the poplar ash and wood smoke is comparable to burning elm.  Goodness knows burning an apple or cherry wood does smell much better in comparison.  I think I’m the only one on the block that relies primarily on wood heat and right now that is very noticeable.  In a couple of weeks my fire wood smoke smell will only be one among many.  I had someone come up to me while working in the front yard and tell me how they loved that wood smoke smell as it smelled like Fall.

Mom and I dug up the sweet potatoes and the first thing that happened is Tucker the Peke went into doggie rototiller mode and had to dig up that bed.   I don’t mind to much but his digging site selection but he tends to go after my Marigolds when given access to my garden area.  I’m working on a taller raised bed concept for next year that will be easier for me and will not require temporary fencing to keep the doggies from digging plants up.

Last but not least if you have nicotine stained walls and apply heat and lots of humidity those stains will start running down those walls.  I want to clean those walls but I can say after my high heat and high humidity experiment curing sweet potatoes  in a small bathroom as a bonus all nicotine smoking tar stains ran down the wall.   If you are cleaning a home of a smoker you might want to try enclosing the room, put in a small humidifier and a small electric heater for a couple of days before you wash the walls and paint with Kill-Z.  I’m not sure that will help with the smell but I can say it will make cleaning the dry walls much easier.

Trying out the chainsaw and the new chains. Curing Sweet Potatoes

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I got a new B&D 20 volt 10 inch at a great price from Amazon.  I’d say it did a good job on cutting 3-4 inch in diameter logs though it took some muscle power to get through the thicker logs.  I got out the 14 inch electric McCollough with the new chain and Mom and I made short work of some of the logs in the 5-6 inch diameter range.  The extra power and self-oiling chain made cutting the larger chunks of wood much easier compared to the battery powered saws.  I still think the little battery powered saws are great for small cutting jobs and cleaning up the trees around the house but having the electric chain saw power is a huge help on the thicker logs.

The load of Poplar was delivered and I filled up most of my new pressure treated wood racks. I know poplar is not the best firewood,  but it was the best I could get on short notice.  My siding contractor has a friend that delivers both maple and cherry wood at a great price per cord.  Now I have an order for 2 cords of hardwood and that should fill up the wood storage area for the winter.  What I want to have on hand is a mix of soft woods that make a hot, fast fire and hard wood that will burn long and slow through the day/night.  Once the maple/cherry  is delivered I’ll decide, if I should cancel the pine fire wood order.  I don’t think canceling the firewood order will hurt the the people that are delivering the pine as I’m on a 1-2 month waiting list.

All of the ceiling fans are installed and gosh they look really good in the house!  Perhaps it is just me but when I add stuff to the house some times it does not seem to fit with the home.  The  new fans seem like they are in a place and they always belonged in the house.   One thing I did not anticipate is the house is much quieter after turning off all the other small fans.  Adding the ceiling fans and new lighting has made things much more flexible on adding both light and air circulation.  I suspect getting rid of all those small fans will also help on the electric costs for the house.

Mom and I dug up the Sweet potatoes today.  The potato roots were basically a tight ball  so I can see the roots need some room to spread out and a small square foot garden might not be the best choice for growing sweet potatoes.  Did you know that sweet potatoes need to cure once they are dug up?  I didn’t know that when I planted those plants!  The sweet potatoes need 4-10 days of 80 degrees F. and about 80% humidity to CURE or set the Sugars in the potatoes.  Needless to say SW Idaho does not usually have 80 degree heat or 80% humidity in October. What I have done for this is use my small bathroom shower stall. I placed a small electric heater and a small humidifier in the shower and the sweet potatoes in a dollar store laundry basket with a bit of paper to protect the taters.  I have read on the internet about people using a greenhouse to “cure the sweet potatoes” in low heat low humidity parts of the country.  Just a FYI for anyone thinking of growing sweet potatoes in the inter mountain west.   I also think a large mound of a dirt rather than a small raised bed would improve the yield.  We got at best about 8-10 med size sweet potatoes off of 2 of 4 plants planted in a small 4′ x 4′ foot raised bed.  Heck it was an experiment and I can say you can grow sweet potatoes in SW Idaho in small raised beds. But if you want a better yield you will want a deeper than 6-8 inch bed and place your plants further apart than 12 inches.

Last but not least we used the air compressor to blow out several fans and added a bit of  “silicon” spray to the motor parts .  Pulled both of the window A/C units and they will need blowing out and the “vanes” straighten for next summer.  Mom wanted to wash the windows and I asked why when they will be replaced in a couple of weeks.  Lots of changes happening here at Casa de Chaos and even we are playing catch up.

Next week will be about cleaning the garden beds and making new and taller beds to make our work load easier.  The up front costs will be higher but I’ll have all winter to gather supplies.   Now all I need to do is find a place to store those supplies over the winter.

Another small load of wood incoming the 6th of October.

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I’m not sure of the size of the load but it is coming on a trailer rather than the pickup and the poplar was trees cut rather than the guy’s normal firewood business so I may get a good amount of wood that he just wants to get rid of around the house plus mitigate the cost of the “tree cutters”.  I have burned elm, box wood, mill ends so I doubt the poplar will be much dirtier in my chimney than some of the firewood I have burned.  Once the house gets new windows and siding along with new ceiling fans to move the air around projects are completed.  I suspect both my heating and cooling costs/requirements will become less expensive.  I can get away with burning a hot fire in the morning and another at night as my house is well insulated and with the new windows/siding install the house will get even more energy efficient.

With a little luck I can try out the new chainsaw blades cutting up the over sized wood from last years deliveries.  I doubt I’ll be able to cut logs to firewood stove lengths but I can cut small logs and split them given some time.

The “Hugger” 52 inch fan does have a low level motor hum. I’d say the noise level is about a small fan on low or a small window A/C unit.  Noticeable but not a deal breaker.  Ironically my cheap Hunter ceiling fan is whisper quiet. Then again the “hugger” fan has another 10 inches of blades for air circulation compared to the old Hunter fans.

Great news Turkey is now .79 cent per pound at Albertsons!  I am going shopping for a 10-13 pound bird to BBQ.   I’d like to get 4 birds in that range.  2 for holiday meals and 2 for next year as BBQ turkey tastes awesome.  I’ll see how the freezer space works out.

A big thing is coming up about “bump stocks”  and I see no reason to get one unless you want a very expensive noise maker.  If you shoot rifles you want a stable platform and trigger control!  A bump stock tosses out both trigger control and a stable shooting platform.  Is it fun? hell yeah, but it is not  good for putting bullets on targets.

Could I kill 50 people and wound 500 others in 10-20 minutes with 3 days to set up?  I think I could and I was just a Signal puke in the Army.  I have met and seen many great shooters that were never in the military.  I assume many people in that confined area were hit by ricochets. A 10% kill to wounded ratio is now uncommon if people can’t shoot back at the shooter.  A concealed handgun would not help you shooting over that range.  Some times the best answer is to run and hide.

Scrambling for firewood!

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I have tried to have most of my firewood on hand by the end of September but my original wood guy has not talked to me since March when I gave him $250.00 in the spring to help him re-build his truck’s engine for an August delivery of wood.  I thought I was a customer willing to pay cash for a wood delivery when he needed money was a good deal for both of us. Well, live and learn, only pay cash on delivery.  I have 2 loads of popular and Ponderossa pine scheduled this month and perhaps a connection for another wood guy for a delivery.  I know these are not the best burning woods but I have to get my wood racks filled up for this winter.  I have about 3/4 of a cord of fruit wood and elm in my racks and added about 1/2 cord of mill ends. As long as I can keep buying wood into November I should be okay for heating this year.   I suspect that a two year supply of wood on hand/ drying is for those people that are able to go out and cut firewood.  If you are in a city or disabled like me I think storing a 3-4 year supply of wood should be your goal, or will be my goal for the future.

I have added another wood storage area for the mill ends all up on pallets and covered with a tarp.  I need to build a wood crib for a long term wood storage so the wood can both dry and stay dry during winter.  For right now the pallets and tarp system is okay solution.   Also I moved all of last years firewood onto the new pressure treated wood rack siting on a concrete slab.  In the future I’ll need to add a roof but so far the wood has dried out this summer and the tarps will be my weather cover.

Called the Electrician guy (Centerline Electric of Nampa ID.)  about installing  a couple of ceiling fans on new switches. A new bathroom GFI and check some wiring that seemed a bit “Funky” to me.  Well I was quoted $400.00-$500.00 for all of the work and the guys were great about talking me through the job, and showed up  in under 2 days rather than taking a couple of weeks or a month to do a small job.  In about 45 minutes the guys installed a new ceiling fan I had bought and a new GFI in the bathroom along with checking out the wiring of the new electrics installed.  My house was built in 1910 and some the renovations done on this home were DIYer’s that did some things that do not meet common sense levels or city code.  The” Hugger” 52 inch ceiling fan I got via Home depot is running great and I can’t even hear it running.  Golly,  on low speed the fan moves a heck of a lot of air around the room.  This fan is going to be great next summer!

Next week it looks like the windows and siding job will start on the house and Contractor says he will start on my Birthday October 12th just for fun! Today my contractor brought by a guy from the company supplying the siding to double check my color selection for resale value.  I’m not planning to sell Casa de Chaos but it is nice a company would take such an interest on potential resale value for a customer.  After looking at the roof and the neighborhood even he thought we picked a good color scheme to tie everything together.  So we are going with a rich red on the fascia, a light grey on the gables and light blue for the main part of the house.  The new color scheme will be muted somewhat as we are going with a more muted gray and blue for the main colors of the house.

I think for the end of the first day of work I may have a small bottle of Champagne for the workers.  Good contractors and workers are hard to find, best to keep them happy!

It looks like fall has fell on SW Idaho. Rain and it is cooling down this weekend.

We hit about 76 degrees F. here at Casa de Chaos today and this weekend we might see the low 60’s for a daytime high along with some rain.  So we got out a tarp to cover the mill ends/kindling.  The mill end wood area is well protected from wind and with the wood up on pallets I think the wood should stay dry.  I will be giving the “mill end guy” a call for another load.  I hope that wood  will be all the small stuff I need to start the wood stove for a quick hot fire and kindling for the winter.  One very nice thing is the guy gets a heck of a lot of mill ends in small Ranger pickup because he stacks it neatly.  What I have now is 2 full pallets of dry wood about 18-24 inches high.  IIRC a cord of wood is about 4 feet tall, 4 feet wide and 8 feet long stacked so 2 pallets should be close to the dimensions of 4 feet wide and about 8 feet long.  Now all I have to do is see how tall of a stack I can build up at $70.00 a delivery.  I have about a cord of dry wood left over from last winter but my wood guy is not returning my calls so I’m a little bit nervous about having enough wood for this winter.  Last but not least Mom is going to give me a hand cutting up the big chunks of wood with the chain saw and test out the new chains.  I don’t have a lot of wood to cut up and I hope the new chains will make the job go faster, safer and more easily.

I got stocked up on coffee this week.  Coffee has been on sale locally but I’m afraid it is because the stores are clearing out older stock and will offer smaller cans at a higher price.  Just a few years ago coffee got very expensive and even the smaller cans of coffee hit around $9.00- $10.00 per can. Thankfully I had coffee stored up and with buying  the sales (loss leaders) I did not pay that much for a can of coffee.  I have to add a few more cans to make sure I have a good stockpile on hand but that is easy this week as I have coupons!

I finally replaced the old blade on my lawn mower.  It was a bit difficult breaking the nut loose, nothing the rubber mallet applied to the wrench could not handle.  The blade worked out great on the lawn.  No problems with vibration/ blade unbalanced and the grass was cut cleanly compared to the older blade.  That gives me 2 blades once I practice sharpening up the old blade.  I want to be more pro-active about stocking up on parts and learning to sharpen all my cutting tools.  I can sharpen a knife and I’m learning how to sharpen an ax.  Now I just have to learn how to sharpen other tools and build an inventory of stones and files for those jobs.  Thank goodness for Youtube vids and the internet.  If you want to learn something there are hundreds of instructional vids to learn how to do a thing.  Remember there is always difference between theory and practice.  Watching a you tube video is Theory!  Doing it your self is practice and you will need lots of practice, or at least I need lots of practice learning a new skill.

I did not buy a TV or the retro Nintendo game system as the Nintendo sold out and I’m having a heck of a time finding a “dumb TV”.  I am a bit of a geek but I hate the idea of being spied upon even if it is passively via a corporation/government.  I have worked very hard to keep my PC/ wifi secure and I don’t want to add anything to my home that must “phone home” simply to work properly.

Rant incoming……

While it torks me I think many people that bought the NES system did so to resell on Ebay. I’m not going to pay a premium price just to get a game console early.   I’m a gamer, not a fool when it comes to money.  With any luck most people will be like me and won’t spend $300.00 to buy the console on Ebay when it sold for $80.00 and Nintendo says they will be shipping out more for the Holiday Season!

It looks like fall has fell on SW Idaho. Rain and it is cooling down this weekend.

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We hit about 76 degrees F. here at Casa de Chaos today and this weekend we might see the low 60’s for a daytime high along with some rain.  So we got out a tarp to cover the mill ends/kindling.  The mill end wood area is well protected from wind and with the wood up on pallets I think the wood should stay dry.  I will be giving the “mill end guy” a call for another load.  I hope that wood  will be all the small stuff I need to start the wood stove for a quick hot fire and kindling for the winter.  One very nice thing is the guy gets a heck of a lot of mill ends in small Ranger pickup because he stacks it neatly.  What I have now is 2 full pallets of dry wood about 18-24 inches high.  IIRC a cord of wood is about 4 feet tall, 4 feet wide and 8 feet long stacked so 2 pallets should be close to the dimensions of 4 feet wide and about 8 feet long.  Now all I have to do is see how tall of a stack I can build up at $70.00 a delivery.  I have about a cord of dry wood left over from last winter but my wood guy is not returning my calls so I’m a little bit nervous about having enough wood for this winter.  Last but not least Mom is going to give me a hand cutting up the big chunks of wood with the chain saw and test out the new chains.  I don’t have a lot of wood to cut up and I hope the new chains will make the job go faster, safer and more easily.

I got stocked up on coffee this week.  Coffee has been on sale locally but I’m afraid it is because the stores are clearing out older stock and will offer smaller cans at a higher price.  Just a few years ago coffee got very expensive and even the smaller cans of coffee hit around $9.00- $10.00 per can. Thankfully I had coffee stored up and with buying  the sales (loss leaders) I did not pay that much for a can of coffee.  I have to add a few more cans to make sure I have a good stockpile on hand but that is easy this week as I have coupons!

I finally replaced the old blade on my lawn mower.  It was a bit difficult breaking the nut loose, nothing the rubber mallet applied to the wrench could not handle.  The blade worked out great on the lawn.  No problems with vibration/ blade unbalanced and the grass was cut cleanly compared to the older blade.  That gives me 2 blades once I practice sharpening up the old blade.  I want to be more pro-active about stocking up on parts and learning to sharpen all my cutting tools.  I can sharpen a knife and I’m learning how to sharpen an ax.  Now I just have to learn how to sharpen other tools and build an inventory of stones and files for those jobs.  Thank goodness for Youtube vids and the internet.  If you want to learn something there are hundreds of instructional vids to learn how to do a thing.  Remember there is always difference between theory and practice.  Watching a you tube video is Theory!  Doing it your self is practice and you will need lots of practice, or at least I need lots of practice learning a new skill.

I did not buy a TV or the retro Nintendo game system as the Nintendo sold out and I’m having a heck of a time finding a “dumb TV”.  I am a bit of a geek but I hate the idea of being spied upon even if it is passively via a corporation/government.  I have worked very hard to keep my PC/ wifi secure and I don’t want to add anything to my home that must “phone home” simply to work properly.

Rant incoming……

While it torks me I think many people that bought the NES system did so to resell on Ebay. I’m not going to pay a premium price just to get a game console early.   I’m a gamer, not a fool when it comes to money.  With any luck most people will be like me and won’t spend $300.00 to buy the console on Ebay when it sold for $80.00 and Nintendo says they will be shipping out more for the Holiday Season!

Work order for the housing job is done and wrote check for 1/2 of the costs. Also added some fire wood

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This week the the last “critical measurements” will be made for both the siding and windows and then the work can begin on the siding and windows.   Gosh I can’t  tell you all how excited I’m to have properly fitted windows that don’t require almost a 1/2 inch of caulk just to close off the drafts in the winter.

The plan is the old siding will be striped off, the entire house will get a full wrap and the Styrofoam reinforced vinyl siding will be installed on top of that wrap.  All new windows and all wood framing will be wrapped in metal to stop all rot and keep with the Craftsman look.  I trust my contractor as his crew installed my roof in about 8 hours, the crew did great cleanup and my roof suffered no damage from the nasty winter of 2016.

Heads up if you are a coffee drinker you have about 2 weeks to stock up on coffee as the coffee growing regions suffered a significant drought.  I have seen the coffee prices sneaking up and the can size getting smaller so I’m stocking up now before the prices get higher.

Got some mill ends to burn for a good price. The gentleman that delivered the wood let me use my garden wagon and wheel barrow to off load the wood rather than just dumping it all on the ground.  I figure we got about a half a cord+ of good “kindling” wood for the stove.  I laid down two pallets and cleaned up some shrubs before delivery and used the pallets that Mom collected that I was so peeved about using around the house.  OOPS my bad!

I’m a bit peeved about my wood guy.  I gave him $250.00 cash this spring when his pickup blew an engine with  no wood delivery required at the time of payment until his truck was fixed.  I understand stuff happens when your primary way of making a living blows up in your face.  I don’t want to get pissy about things but I gave him cash to repair his truck in March and now I want a wood delivery in Sept.-Oct. and that is not happening.  Well it was a handshake sort of transaction and there is nothing I can do legally that won’t cost more than $250.00.   Gosh I like this guy and I don’t think I should be treated as a debt collector especially when I gave you cash to fix your truck and would wait for you to deliver wood.

It is a bit sad at Casa de Chaos as Toy the Peke passed.  He had a good run of 14+ years but he needed a bit of mercy/ help reaching that RAINBOW bridge.  Thank goodness for Jackson the terrier, Mom is moving on and not dwelling on Toy’s death.  It was a release for Toy to move on.   While Brodie and Tucker are my dogs they love getting affection from all they meet.

Okay I have added new fans,  a new section of kindling and working on a new concept of raised bed gardening.  Winter looks to be be brutal so get ready now!

Splitting wood and moving wood to the new racks.

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I cleared the wood off the first wood racks I built and now I see why the my wood stayed wet.  The rack system I used did not elevate the wood off the concrete and the untreated boards acted like a sponge soaking up water into the racks bottom layer of wood.   To fix the issue I have been splitting those chunks of now dry wood as I have physical energy and moving the rest of the wood to the new pressure treated wood racks that have a solid  4″x 4″  worth of clearance above the concrete slab.  Making the new wood racks from pressure treated lumber is much cheaper compared to using the metal brackets and untreated 2 x 4’s and the racks seem to keep the wood out of the water and helps with drying the wood out.  One critical thing I need to do is build more wood racks and get a multi-year/season wood storage system figured out.  Dealing with wet wood because of poor wood rack construction or I did not stock up  on enough wood could be very problematic.

I’m splitting the last year’s wood and most of it was stuff that was knotty or had very twisted grains like elm that was too tough to split and use last year.  Perhaps I have learned how to split wood better or even twisty grained wood is easier to split when dry but I added another 18 gallon bucket of kindling to the front porch.  One thing I can say for sure is dry kindling and dry wood takes a lot less effort than the wet stuff!  Last but not least my Chimney sweep will clean the chimney on Oct. 9th and with a little luck she will add another section of pipe to the top of stack so the wood stove draws better and runs cleaner during wood heating season.  My chimney is to city code but that does not mean the wood stove burns at it’s best potential.  Another 2-3 foot pipe addition is an easy and fairly low cost fix to make the wood stove to run clean and efficient.

That is not all I have been doing I have been shopping and stocking up.  Today I went to Fred Meyer/ Kroger and stocked up on a few odds and ends.  I have my “Shoppers card” set up for digital coupons with no personal data but my email.  I know I can be tracked via that address but the PTBs will at least have to go through a couple of steps to track me.  My gosh Tissue paper has become very expensive and the rolls are getting smaller all the time.  So Mom and I are stocking up on that stuff whenever we can afford to get some extra TP.   Coffee is is getting very expensive and the cans are getting smaller all the time in the stores.  Albetrsons is having a sale and I need to add at least 5 cans of mid quality coffee to get the sale price.  Getting 3 pounds/48 oz of name brand ground coffee for $5.00- $6.00 is long  gone. Oh, you can still buy coffee for $5.00-$6.00 a can but it has only 24 oz. or a pound and and half  can of coffee.  Well such is life and I expected it but I really hate being right about this sort of thing.

Okay this is not about prepping but I want to buy a 40 inch LED non smart TV and the new/old Nintendo game system for $80.00 at the end of September.  Sort of a Birthday present to me for me October.   While I hate to get rid of my German bought digital CRT TV that is over 15 years old with a great picture.  The lower power costs of an LED is too enticing.  Plus I want to play Star Fox 2!

 

Siding work proposal/contract on the 21st and wood stove fired up.

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My contractor is stopping by to get the work order all finished up and scheduled.  Needless to say I’m very excited to get the job started.  October is usually a good month to get outsides jobs done as it is cool and not damp for the construction guys.  Plus I want the old windows pulled and new windows installed when it is temperate rather than when it is cold.

Speaking of cold/damp weather.  Mom fired up the wood stove for the first time this season.  The kindling I cut up was dry and burned very clean.  One thing I noticed is dry wood seems to be much more controllable on temps compared to damp wood.  You need a big fire when you burn damp wood or you get very little heat from the stove and the wood is difficult to burn.  A small amount of dry wood burns clean, hot and is much easier to control compared to burning wet/damp wood.  So stocking up on wood and give it time to dry makes using wood heat much easier in the long run as you use less wood for the same amount of heat.

I am going to replace the 2×4 wood racks made with the $20.00 metal brackets with my simple pressure treated wood racks.  More work moving the wood on to new racks but all those racks will have dry wood.  All of the wood I get now will have a chance to dry and not be on concrete or soak up any water.  I got new chainsaw chains for both my small B&D 8 inch (Oregon 34) and the electric McCullough (Oregon 49) chains via True Value hardware store.   While I have not used either saw yet cutting wood, they both seem to sound better when running them. I want to add another chain each and the proper sharpening files for each so I can practice sharpening each saw’s chain.  Sharp cutting tools tend to be safer to use compared to dull cutting tools.  I have to say that my splitting ax is doing a much better job since I sharpened it and seems less prone to burying into wood rather than cutting through it.  I’m still learning how to sharpen an ax but I think I’m getting the hang of how to do the job.   The 6 pound maul needs a stone but it will take a different method of moving the sharpening stone rather than moving the blade.

I’m still prepping as coffee went on sale at Albertsons this week.  I’m good with the basic MJB, Yuban or even a good store brand of ground roast coffee.  I use coffee faster than the time needed for it to go bad.  I want to get some green coffee beans and roast my own eventually  but at this time that is not something I have to do as long as I can store and use store bought coffee within 12-24 months.  Remember if you are prepping for a year and stuff last for a year and you rotate you are good stocking up stuff for a year!

All of us in the northern section of the USA know winter is coming and now is the time to stock up!  Overall I think I’m in good shape but I need another propane tank and a powerful burner to melt ice and snow.  I think we will have another hard winter in SW Idaho.  I’m planning for the worst and hoping for the best.

The loan is done and the work will begin about the first of October!

I might have been less than charitable to the VA inspector.  For the second inspection he was great! Much more interactive and personable over the phone when we set up the re-inspection.  I suspect he was happy I did the work to pass rather than, me getting all “Butt hurt” that I failed the first inspection.  Anyone that has been in the military knows that inspections are not about doing the right thing but “checking the block” to look good on paper for the PTBs.

My contractor has a roof  job scheduled for this week but will get me scheduled for the end of this month or the first part of October!  Gosh, new windows for the house will be great for saving money on heating and cooling in the future.  I’m very excited to get the job started and I’m keeping about 10-15% cash on hand for the job in case some thing goes wrong.  I won’t say something will go wrong but with an older home it is possible that things will need replaced that a good contractor did not for see on the job.  I want the job completed before the end of October so I’ll have some cash on hand to ensure the job can be done on time.

Mom and I stopped by one of the local LDS churches had a “prepper fair”  with an awesome Geodesic dome tent set up.  Very impressive tent set up with all the structural bars color coded and with a set up of a small wood stove. The big 24 foot tent was very spacious and freaking hot with the small wood camp stove running and open vet panel and 2 “doors” open .  While I don’t think it is my thing, I could see this tent as a good place to live while you built a homestead. Supposedly the tent will go up within 2 hours with just two guys working.  I should have asked if they guys set up the dome in 25-30 mph winds that happened on Friday the 15th?  I missed asking that question.

Had some great conversations with people about small Battery banks and solar energy chargers.  One presenter admitted she was not up to date on small solar panels and small battery banks though she had heard about them on the Internet.  So I brought in my small Ravpower battery bank that can jump a V-8 and jumps a Kia mini-van with no worries at all.  My gosh I never have been so popular!

I have a problem that I think all people think as I do and they don’t.  I get a small fold-able 15 watt solar panel for under $50.00 or a small battery and think it is no big deal.  It is a big deal for people who want backups for even a little power.

A couple of years ago a fold able 15 watt solar panel was unthinkable and now you can buy one for about $50 bucks. The future is about battery power and how you can power your batteries. You won’t power everything but you can power enough to be semi-comfortable.

Oh, we discussed water storage and  I have shared the Igloo storage system of hot/cold water.  I think a Water Bob is a great water storage system for disaster.  But if each family member could fill a 5 gallon igloo with either hot or cold water before the disaster hit and then fill the Water Bob in the tub.  You would have a lot more potable water to start of your disaster preps.  Trust me using an Igloo cooler in the kitchen or bath is much easier than pumping water out of a water bob.  Fill all the food safe container first and then worry about  getting “bottled water”.

Focus on what you need and remember need does not mean the “basics”.  The basics may mean basic survival or some comfort is doable.  All you need to do is get inventive and decide what you can do without.  Trust me there will be times you will go without.

 

The loan is done and the work will begin about the first of October!

I might have been less than charitable to the VA inspector.  For the second inspection he was great! Much more interactive and personable over the phone when we set up the re-inspection.  I suspect he was happy I did the work to pass rather than, me getting all “Butt hurt” that I failed the first inspection.  Anyone that has been in the military knows that inspections are not about doing the right thing but “checking the block” to look good on paper for the PTBs.

My contractor has a roof  job scheduled for this week but will get me scheduled for the end of this month or the first part of October!  Gosh, new windows for the house will be great for saving money on heating and cooling in the future.  I’m very excited to get the job started and I’m keeping about 10-15% cash on hand for the job in case some thing goes wrong.  I won’t say something will go wrong but with an older home it is possible that things will need replaced that a good contractor did not for see on the job.  I want the job completed before the end of October so I’ll have some cash on hand to ensure the job can be done on time.

Mom and I stopped by one of the local LDS churches had a “prepper fair”  with an awesome Geodesic dome tent set up.  Very impressive tent set up with all the structural bars color coded and with a set up of a small wood stove. The big 24 foot tent was very spacious and freaking hot with the small wood camp stove running and open vet panel and 2 “doors” open .  While I don’t think it is my thing, I could see this tent as a good place to live while you built a homestead. Supposedly the tent will go up within 2 hours with just two guys working.  I should have asked if they guys set up the dome in 25-30 mph winds that happened on Friday the 15th?  I missed asking that question.

Had some great conversations with people about small Battery banks and solar energy chargers.  One presenter admitted she was not up to date on small solar panels and small battery banks though she had heard about them on the Internet.  So I brought in my small Ravpower battery bank that can jump a V-8 and jumps a Kia mini-van with no worries at all.  My gosh I never have been so popular!

I have a problem that I think all people think as I do and they don’t.  I get a small fold-able 15 watt solar panel for under $50.00 or a small battery and think it is no big deal.  It is a big deal for people who want backups for even a little power.

A couple of years ago a fold able 15 watt solar panel was unthinkable and now you can buy one for about $50 bucks. The future is about battery power and how you can power your batteries. You won’t power everything but you can power enough to be semi-comfortable.

Oh, we discussed water storage and  I have shared the Igloo storage system of hot/cold water.  I think a Water Bob is a great water storage system for disaster.  But if each family member could fill a 5 gallon igloo with either hot or cold water before the disaster hit and then fill the Water Bob in the tub.  You would have a lot more potable water to start of your disaster preps.  Trust me using an Igloo cooler in the kitchen or bath is much easier than pumping water out of a water bob.  Fill all the food safe container first and then worry about  getting “bottled water”.

Focus on what you need and remember need does not mean the “basics”.  The basics may mean basic survival or some comfort is doable.  All you need to do is get inventive and decide what you can do without.  Trust me there will be times you will go without.

 

The loan is done and the work will begin about the first of October!

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I might have been less than charitable to the VA inspector.  For the second inspection he was great! Much more interactive and personable over the phone when we set up the re-inspection.  I suspect he was happy I did the work to pass rather than, me getting all “Butt hurt” that I failed the first inspection.  Anyone that has been in the military knows that inspections are not about doing the right thing but “checking the block” to look good on paper for the PTBs.

My contractor has a roof  job scheduled for this week but will get me scheduled for the end of this month or the first part of October!  Gosh, new windows for the house will be great for saving money on heating and cooling in the future.  I’m very excited to get the job started and I’m keeping about 10-15% cash on hand for the job in case some thing goes wrong.  I won’t say something will go wrong but with an older home it is possible that things will need replaced that a good contractor did not for see on the job.  I want the job completed before the end of October so I’ll have some cash on hand to ensure the job can be done on time.

Mom and I stopped by one of the local LDS churches had a “prepper fair”  with an awesome Geodesic dome tent set up.  Very impressive tent set up with all the structural bars color coded and with a set up of a small wood stove. The big 24 foot tent was very spacious and freaking hot with the small wood camp stove running and open vet panel and 2 “doors” open .  While I don’t think it is my thing, I could see this tent as a good place to live while you built a homestead. Supposedly the tent will go up within 2 hours with just two guys working.  I should have asked if they guys set up the dome in 25-30 mph winds that happened on Friday the 15th?  I missed asking that question.

Had some great conversations with people about small Battery banks and solar energy chargers.  One presenter admitted she was not up to date on small solar panels and small battery banks though she had heard about them on the Internet.  So I brought in my small Ravpower battery bank that can jump a V-8 and jumps a Kia mini-van with no worries at all.  My gosh I never have been so popular!

I have a problem that I think all people think as I do and they don’t.  I get a small fold-able 15 watt solar panel for under $50.00 or a small battery and think it is no big deal.  It is a big deal for people who want backups for even a little power.

A couple of years ago a fold able 15 watt solar panel was unthinkable and now you can buy one for about $50 bucks. The future is about battery power and how you can power your batteries. You won’t power everything but you can power enough to be semi-comfortable.

Oh, we discussed water storage and  I have shared the Igloo storage system of hot/cold water.  I think a Water Bob is a great water storage system for disaster.  But if each family member could fill a 5 gallon igloo with either hot or cold water before the disaster hit and then fill the Water Bob in the tub.  You would have a lot more potable water to start of your disaster preps.  Trust me using an Igloo cooler in the kitchen or bath is much easier than pumping water out of a water bob.  Fill all the food safe container first and then worry about  getting “bottled water”.

Focus on what you need and remember need does not mean the “basics”.  The basics may mean basic survival or some comfort is doable.  All you need to do is get inventive and decide what you can do without.  Trust me there will be times you will go without.

 

Ow! My gosh I hurt from cutting a bit of kindling.

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Muscle soreness is most of it but the weather has taken a turn towards fall and is getting cooler. In fact the weather guys are claiming snow will fall in the hills around the Treasure valley.  I like the weather around here as we usually have a long hot summer but I remember the place I grew up in northen Idaho with only 3 seasons. July, August and winter!  I suspect the weather has cycled back to the late 70’s/early 80’s again and we need to prep for both colder and more snowy winters.  So September and October will be months to get prepared for winter.  My hope is to get the contractor to work in 50-60 degree F. weather and not much rain to deal with during the job.

I have another load of wood coming this week but I want to split  and cut up the leftover wood.  Replacing the chain on the little Black & Decker chainsaw made a heck of a difference on cutting up the small chunks of wood.  So I’m excited to see how much difference the electric chainsaw replacement will make on cutting wood.   I have seen YouTube vids about using a dull axe is a good thing.  I disagree as I cut wood and with a sharp axe I “bury” axe in my cutting stump rather suffer a glancing blow to my legs.  Now there a lot of ways to cut effectively and most depend on using sharp tools.   If you like using a dull axe or sharp chain saws well you be you because I don’t care.  I think sharp tools are safer be it a knife in the kitchen or an axe cutting chunks of  wood.

I have a plan to cut up the over sized wood that should be fairly safe.  I’ll just set up a couple of 2x4s to brace the wood I’m cutting and have a spotter just in case I screw up.  Life is risky and all you can do is mitigate that risk.  If you want to play it safe you will never do anything for your self.

Humans have lived in Texas and Florida for 1000 + years and they thought the risks were worth the rewards.  We aren’t all that different from our ancestors.  Here locally a culvert flooded a subdivision and the local government tried to pass the buck of responsibility.  Those 22 homes are still flooded and trashed.  Those people are still living tents and camp trailers.  They will get no disaster relief but is their pain any less real?

I’m not trying to virtue signal or play the victim for these people.  Life is messy and you should try to go local to support your community.   Also I’d rather walk on my lips than say anything good about a democrat but I think the Houston Mayor made a great decision on keeping all “Mandatory Evacuations” to a minimum.

That is my little rant If you have a different perspective please comment.

Ow! My gosh I hurt from cutting a bit of kindling.

Muscle soreness is most of it but the weather has taken a turn towards fall and is getting cooler. In fact the weather guys are claiming snow will fall in the hills around the Treasure valley.  I like the weather around here as we usually have a long hot summer but I remember the place I grew up in northen Idaho with only 3 seasons. July, August and winter!  I suspect the weather has cycled back to the late 70’s/early 80’s again and we need to prep for both colder and more snowy winters.  So September and October will be months to get prepared for winter.  My hope is to get the contractor to work in 50-60 degree F. weather and not much rain to deal with during the job.

I have another load of wood coming this week but I want to split  and cut up the leftover wood.  Replacing the chain on the little Black & Decker chainsaw made a heck of a difference on cutting up the small chunks of wood.  So I’m excited to see how much difference the electric chainsaw replacement will make on cutting wood.   I have seen YouTube vids about using a dull axe is a good thing.  I disagree as I cut wood and with a sharp axe I “bury” axe in my cutting stump rather suffer a glancing blow to my legs.  Now there a lot of ways to cut effectively and most depend on using sharp tools.   If you like using a dull axe or sharp chain saws well you be you because I don’t care.  I think sharp tools are safer be it a knife in the kitchen or an axe cutting chunks of  wood.

I have a plan to cut up the over sized wood that should be fairly safe.  I’ll just set up a couple of 2x4s to brace the wood I’m cutting and have a spotter just in case I screw up.  Life is risky and all you can do is mitigate that risk.  If you want to play it safe you will never do anything for your self.

Humans have lived in Texas and Florida for 1000 + years and they thought the risks were worth the rewards.  We aren’t all that different from our ancestors.  Here locally a culvert flooded a subdivision and the local government tried to pass the buck of responsibility.  Those 22 homes are still flooded and trashed.  Those people are still living tents and camp trailers.  They will get no disaster relief but is their pain any less real?

I’m not trying to virtue signal or play the victim for these people.  Life is messy and you should try to go local to support your community.   Also I’d rather walk on my lips than say anything good about a democrat but I think the Houston Mayor made a great decision on keeping all “Mandatory Evacuations” to a minimum.

That is my little rant If you have a different perspective please comment.

VA reinspection done, added another pressure treated wood rack

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I have a good feeling about the reinspection as the VA guy took only basic photos to show paint work that was done and did not go all “anal retentive” about looking for paint chips or doing a close inspection of the “problem areas” paint job.   Hopefully I will get back a good inspection report in a week or two and then the loan will be approved soon after that report.  I want to get started on all the work by the end of September first part of October during so the contrator has good weather to do the work.

Finished up a new pressure treated wood rack.  Now I have  wood racks that will hold about a cord and half of wood above the concrete.  Those racks should help keep my firewood dry, especially if we don’t get 18 + inches of  standing snow and runoff melt.  My wood guy will be delivering a load of wood this next week and it will be great to have racks all filled up and have a system in place for the wood to dry.   I have some leftover fire wood from last year that is very dry, so I’m restacking the wood, cutting some of the big chunks to stove length and trying to get ahead on the needed “kindling” for winter.  My splitting axe is sharpened up but the new 6 pound splitting maul needs a little sharpening as it bounced off a couple of knotty logs.  I know that some people will disagree with me but I think all cutting tools should be as sharp as possible, not just good enough to get the job done.  I’d rather bury my axe in my cutting stump, rather than have the axe glance off and hit my leg.

I’m still learnining to use the Splitting maul but it works great on those job when you need a bigger hammer!  I know 6 pounds does not seem like much but that is about as much as I can do to swing that maul to get the job done.

I bouught a snow blower in order to deal with a heavy snow.  With any luck, getting the snow blower will mean I will not need to use a snow blower this year.  I’m adding  more sand, salt  and a propane torch (melt ice)  to get ready for a hard winter like last year.  Much better to have stuff ready and not need it rather than need stuff and not have it on hand.  I think we are facing another snowy and cold winter here in SW Idaho.  My planning is based for the worst winter this year compared to last year.

FYI: Don’t buy cheap LED bulbs.  I have had 3 “cheap “bulbs  fail in less than a year.  What scares me is the LED bulbs cracked at the base and might pose a fire hazard.  Spend the extra money and buy LED bulbs from a solid company.

 

I think that is about all I have for this week.  With a bit Of luck in a couple of weeks I’lll have new pics of the siding and replacing windows project.

Carpets cleaned with new Hoover Carpet cleaner.

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The Bissel cleaner has been placed on the patio and I’m done using it!  I don’t think it is a terrible carpet cleaner for low pile carpet with minimal shedding pets.  I have a deep pile carpet and a bunch of shedding pets. So I got a Hoover carpet cleaner on sale at Home depot for $98.00 and tried it out on the carpets I cleaned with the Bissel.

The first thing is the Hoover cleaner is much lighter without feeling flimsy. With my disability, lighter is better as long as the equipment gets the job done.  Also the cleaner was very easy to assemble out of the box with only 2 screws needed to attach the handle.  The plug for the clean water tank also has a measuring cap for the carpet cleaner soap which is nice feature compared to saving the Bissel soap measure cap. Separate clean and dirty water tanks makes this carpet cleaner nicer to use.   The Hoover seems to use more water to clean the carpet but the rug is not saturated and dries within 1-2  hours.  So the dry time is about the same and I might give the Hoover cleaner a bit of edge on drying time.

Cleanup of the Hoover:  OMG there is no comparison of the ease of cleanup for the Hoover compared to the Bissel.  I love the little rotating brushes compared the the “beater bar” of the Bissel.  The rotating brushes just “ball” up pet hair while the beater brush simply spins the hair around the bar that needs to be cut via scissors.   Everything on the Hoover makes clean up simple.  One tank for clean water. One tank for dirty water and no nooks or crevices to try and get clean.  Just dump the dirty water give the tank a rince and you are good to go!  Did I mention you can easily pull the rotating brushes and clean/rinse the brushes in the sink?  Like the Bissel,  the Hoover has a similar suck up section.  A pipe cleaner will dislodge pet hair from the little plastic protrutions both machines have on that part of the machines.

I cleaned my carpets about a week ago using the Bissel clearer and it was a major effort from getting the machine working on a med. pile carpet to a bit of low pile carpet. Using the Hoover I got actual sludge in the bottom of the dirty water tank and I got rid of the urine odor in the living room today and the dirty water tank looked very black so the bissel did not do a very good job on the carpets.  It is not perfect, yet I have to say walking in bare feet across the carpets now feels wonderful.  Both of my carpets have reverted to a different color as being brighter and more vibrant than when the carpets were dirty and I’m getting rid of the urine odor.  The pets seemed a bit confused by the clean carpet and are now going outside, rather than peeing in their “living room” tinkle spots.  Its early days but I think this Hoover is a better choice than than the more complicated Bissel.

I found replacement chainsaw chains.  The Oregon T34 I beleive it is called will work on the 18 volt B&D 8 inch chainsaw as a replacement.  My goodness having a semi-sharp chainsaw chain makes cutting wood a lot easier!  Who’d a thunk it?   I need to get a files to sharpen the chainsaw chains and learn to sharpen axes for cutting fire wood.  I think a dull axe is about as useful as a dull knife.

 

Demo and clean up of the woodpile area. Garden harvest and clean up done by Mom.

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I got started taking down the rotted roof  that is over my woodpile.  I’m about 50% complete on the job as I  demo’ed the worst of rotted and warp boards first and now I’m moving my wood/ wood racks out of the way to finish up the demo of the last parts of the roof. My new wood racks made of pressure treated lumber seem to work great for getting the wood about 5-6 inches off the concrete slab and I’m going to use tarps to cover the wood this winter.  So far, I prefer the wood racks I made with pressure treated lumber compared the racks I made with the $20.00 metal brackets and regular 2 x 4s. Using the  4 x 4 pressure treated lumber as a base and then 2 x 4 on top of them gets the wood higher off the concrete compared with using the metal brackets plus the pressured treated wood racks are cheaper over all compared to metal bracket wood racks even with using more expensive pressure treated wood.  My wood racks are 18 inch x 4 ft. by 8 ft. and I believe that is what is called a “Face” cord of wood and not a “true” cord of wood which is 4 ft. wide x 4 ft. high and  8 ft. long.  I really like having a hard/soft wood mix for my wood stove and out here in the west usually means a mix of pine/fir and fruit woods like apple and cherry.   I got a my wood guy delivering a cord or so of some pine/ fir mix next week so now I can make some kindling for the stove.  I’m finishing up the last of the elm and while elm burns great it is difficult to split as the grain twists which makes it terrible for ax cut kindling.  For our kindling this year Mom and I want to get a load of actual “mill ends” and not “box wood” that I got to start this firewood adventure.  I got a small 6 pound splitting maul for those tougher chunks of wood, but I’ll have to re-learn how to use that tool.  So far the light weight ax has done a great job for making kindling.

I finally got to use the Ryobi impact hammer drill and my gosh I love it!  Okay it is a battery powered drill so I did not expect a lot but it did a great job on removing screws my basic drill could not remove and it was great on driving in screws that defeated my basic 18 volt drill could not handle.  I don’t think it would be great for concrete but for working on any wood job I think this little Ryobi drill would handle working with Hardwoods fairly easily.  Also this drill extracted screws that defeated my basic drill.

Mom got busy and cleaned up the garden and did some harvesting.  Big thing Mom wanted was the “rubber mallet” to re position stakes in the garden.  Well I had the ” mallet” in the basement breaking apart shelves and the trying to pound in garden stakes with a 6 pound maul was less than successful.  We found the mallet eventually but I learned that bigger is not always better.  I’m  going to get a small 2 pound maul hammer and a good 1 pound claw hammer.  You have to make things work for the job given and  some times you need brute force and sometimes you have to go small.  Good news we did have success with cantaloupes this year.

Hoop jumping and more finishing up STUFF

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My mortgage guy stopped by today and checked my paint job and recommended a couple of touch ups to the paint.  Over all he thought my job would probably work out okay with the VA Appraiser and the loan should get done after the re-appraisal.  The first coat Kill-Z is added to the bad spots and I’ll add another coat along with the touch ups for the appraiser who should show up around the first week in September.

FYI: if you are a veteran and want a cash out you will need a new appraisal.  If you are doing a straight re-fi for a lower payments, chances are you won’t need an appraisal.  Also the appraiser can not move stuff around, so it might be possible to “hide” some suspected problem areas with boards or things  laid against the sides of the house.

In a way everything is sort of working out as my “contractor” suffered a heart attack and was in the hospital over the weekend.  I got a call from him apologizing for not keeping in touch on the “potential” job.   I added a little extra cash to my loan just in case some thing goes wrong and needs some fixing.  I’m hoping not to use that money on the siding project and it will go straight into the “Emergency fund” for other projects/emergencies.

Carpets got cleaned, finally!  This was a tough job as the living room carpet was difficult.  The cleaning solution set on top of the deep pile carpet and never penetrated the fibers before the carpet cleaner pulled up the cleaning solution.  It took a little finagling but I got the soap solution on the carpet, and vacuumed up on the first try then the next day the carpet cleaner did a great job scrubbing the living room carpet.  Now on my low pile carpet the carpet cleaner did a pretty good job on the first try.  I’m glad I went to the extra effort on the carpet carpet cleaner as Mom was so peeved she wanted to chuck the machine into the trash after fighting with it on the first day.  FYI: Bissel carpet cleaner’s vacuum and spray pumps are connected and work in tandem. When pet hair gets up into the internal machine belts “slip” and can keep the machine from working.  It is a bit of a pain but always clean all hair from the beater brushes and around the spray nozzles.  Trust me it makes using a cheap carpet cleaner much easier to use the next time.

Did some shopping and have been adding to my hard liquor stock pile.  This will last a long time for me as I prefer beer for drinking but it is always  nice to have the option for a Margarita night.  I focused on whiskeys and vodka to begin with and now I want to stock up gin, rum and tequila mid-range of quality.  I figure get the booze for a “basic bar” at a reasonable price and then add in any Premium stuff as money allows.  Idaho has state liquor stores so there is no competition on price.  I don’t know what your priorities are for stocking up but hard liquor for any sort of barter should probably be bought is small quantities and for personal use in the bigger bottles.  Do not discount getting schnapps or flavored liquors as many people like a sweet flavor, especially women.  I’m not a big fan of sweet flavor alcohol but a bottle of Kahlua or peach/mint schnapps might make a good barter item.  If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody is happy!  You might also try out some cooking wines and sherries to cook with as they add lots of flavor to meals and marinades but are not so good to drink.  That will save your stockpile for barter.

I have bitched and moaned enough and have done a few things to make my life better for the future.  I need to add a few more 18 inch plywood boards and some additional Ideas but over all Mom and I are doing good though a bit stressed.  With a little luck we will clean up the garden and start on building the boardwalk.

 

Cognitive Bias strikes again

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Ya’all stay safe safe during Hurricane “Harvey” hitting Texas.  I know most of you that have lived there know the difference when to ride it out and when to get out of the “impact area”.  That is why we have Bug Out Bags.  Every region has some sort of “possible events”  Mama nature will try to kill you in many ways.  All you can do is make a plan and try and anticipate mama nature.  Folks will need some help after the storm passes and while it sounds a bit mercenary those people will need cash to buy the things they need.  Please give to charities you have checked out.  I personally despise the Red Cross but give to the Salvation Army.  If you all know of a good local charity that will help the people in Texas please feel free to post them in the comments.

 

Short post but just trying to make people aware and make the work positive.

If it stupid and works, it ain’t stupid!

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I’m not sure what is happening on the refi other than I’m in some sort of “Underwriters” purgatory at this time.  From what I understand the VA appraiser can not move or remove anything around the house,  so I might be able to attach my cedar fence boards to the bad siding and bypass the flaking paint thing short term.  It is stupid but I can reuse the boards for fencing or my Boardwalk idea around the raised bed garden area.  Okay I have to say the small garage door does look a lot better cleaned up and painted.

Worse thing that can happen is I don’t replace the siding and windows this September and will have to break up the jobs over a longer time period.  So while I am pissed off at the VA appraiser and the VA in general.  I won’t let it stop me improving stuff around the house.

I ordered a new lawnmower blade  and I’m thinking of adding a de-thatching blade to the mower in the future.  I have not used a de-thatching blade on a mower so I’m not sure how well those “blades” work.  Has anyone used a de-thatching blade on a mower and what did you think of the results?

I want to move my firewood to the new firewood racks and add a Saw buck to cut fire wood more safely.  I left a message to my fire wood guy for another cord or 2 for this winter.  I’m a bit late again on getting the cleaning the wood stove and the woodpile built up in September but it is not not my fault this time.  This year all of my wood will be up on wood racks and I have a cord or 2 of wood that is very dry for my wood stove. Burning green/wet  wood sucks.

 

VA is holding up my refi over paint chips

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My siding sucks, I’ll agree to that statement.  Sort of why I want a refi loan to replace my siding and my windows.  The VA appraiser stated my paint is peeling off the bad siding and I must replace it or cover it up before I get the refi to replace my siding. I a’m in a catch 22 again via the VA.  I don’t need a $130 thousand appraisal as $105 thousand is enough to cover the siding and new windows.

I painted my shop door and while it looks better it still is a crappy door to my shop.  My sander is literally shredding the crappy siding and my shopvac picks up the paint chips this all seems damn stupid!

I’m literally paying the VA for the US Army kicking me out of the Army.  I’m just peeved and this crap happens to all vets but I’m pissed off about the PTBs making shit so hard.

It is a simple refi of a loan for home improvement and yet again I have to jump through hoops.

My house colors

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I got to sit down with the contractor and look at a program that puts the siding  on my house digitally.  This is not a perfect representation but it is close to how the house will look when the project is finished.

house colors

My loan has been “conditionally approve”!  I just need to sign a few government required paperwork saying I haven’t been foreclosed on and I’m not trying to “Launder Money” via a refi.  I don’t think a criminal or a terrorist would answer such questions truthfully but I guess these things are all about “Playing the game”.  Sort of reminds me of the old Soviet joke, “We pretend to work and the government pretends to pay us.”  If everything is good I will get the loan by the end of August and start the siding/window replacement work in September.

Got some shopping done today.  Added two more pressure treated 2×4’s and four more 6′ foot cedar fencing boards for the garden “board walk” project.  That should be enough materials to complete about half of the job I have in mind.  Eventually I want the boardwalk to be a walkway around all the raised beds that the wagons and wheel barrow can maneuver easily, plus block the weeds and stop my dogs digging around the beds.

I bought another of the Commercial Electric 8.5 inch LED portable task light for $20.00 at Home Depot.  I love these little lights because the have rechargeable batteries and with the USB charging port they can be recharged via battery banks or even a small Solar panel setup for charging electronics.  Two features I really love is the lights have magnetic attachments so they hold great on a fridge or metal door.  So the lights are very easy to stick on surfaces around the house were you need light.  The second feature I like is the lights have 3 setting from high (reading or work light) to low that works as a slightly more powerful nite light.  The magnetic mounting brackets have worked great when mounted to wood cabinets and I’m now testing how well they stick on drywall.

I finally found where where the mice died and it was in my pet’s 72 hour bag.  Oh my gosh the stench was vile! I saved my water bottles and some rope but the backpack was tossed as I could not contain my gag reflex long enough to clean it.  My BOB seems to be okay though it is now sitting outside until I can go though and check out the contents.  Score one for the Army’s use of CORDERA material for backpacks!  I’m going to place my bag in a hard side container or plastic bin to insure the mice and critters can’t get at the contents or simply die in my backpacks.   I know some have had plastic containers attacked by mice and it is not a perfect solution. Through out my little mice infestation problem all of my plastic totes had no mice inside.  Bags and cardboard boxes got infested.  Live and learn if you are lucky and especially learn from my mistakes and the stuff that works out right.

So to wrap it all up or TL:DR

  • The house is getting a new exterior and new windows installed.
  • Building the cedar boardwalk around the garden
  • Mice are not cute and are vile vermin that must be eradicated in your home.
  • Now I know why our ancestors used metal and glass to deny all vermin access to food and water.

 

Got some shop clean up done

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I was a bit peeved when Mom got some more pallets but it has helped getting stuff stored above the waterline if the shop gets flooded like it it did last winter.  I see how I can use the rest of the pallets as well as the broken down shelving from the basement demo to make the shop better for storage.  It has been difficult to redo the storage as neither Mom nor I anticipated two plus years of her storing stuff in the shop nor the shop getting flooded  this last spring.   Honestly, the cleanup we got done today and adding in more pallets we actually have more space to work with/in.  Of course I’ll need to set up a few more shelves and stuff to complete the project.

I got a couple of electric snow blowers this year and with the addition of the ice melting torch, we should be better prepared for this winter. I added a small 6 pound splitting  maul along with my ax for my fire wood cutting tools.   I need to build a cutting sawhorse for my chain saw for the larger chunks of wood.

Great news Mom’s knee is up to 45 degrees of movement in just two weeks working with the new physical therapist!   Between the new shoe inserts and the therapist, Mom is moving around much better than I have seen her walk in over two years.  Mom has finished up all the requirements of her Master Gardeners class.

I’ve hit my “time shift” thing again as I do, once or twice a year.  I tend to be a night owl and staying up till 3-5 am  playing on the PC is not a big deal but is not optimal, if I want to get stuff done during the day.  I’m trying to reset my body clock.

The eclipse “madness” has begun here in SW Idaho and SE Oregon.  I’m just going to set up a couple of lawn chairs a half block away with a semi clear skyline ( minimal trees) a thermos of coffee and just enjoy.   There is literally bumper to bumper traffic into Pineville Oregon today 17 August 2017.  I got my safety glasses and if I’m correct, we should see about 1 min. 45 seconds-2 minutes of totality locally.   The eclipse is a cool thing to see but getting crazy over it, is kind of silly.  I’m a bit peeved the local gas pumps are jacking up prices to “Profit” from all the people wanting to see the eclipse, but I don’t blame them either.  From my stand point it is just annoying not an “End of the World” rant.

Last but not least my kitchen fridge went wonky and the freezer did not keep things frozen.  This is an old fridge and I moved it around after I removed all freezer food it started working again! I’m going to switch fridges this weekend with my small new fridge that is in the shop. I have no idea why the fridge started working again so this fridge will become the new “beer fridge” in the shop.  Since we cleaned up the shop this should job should be simple if not easy.

 

 

 

Smoke!

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Gosh the smoke from fires has been kicking my ass.  Fires are common in the west but having the valley fill with smoke for this long is unusual.  So I have been indoors and feeling less than spry about the situation.  I have added new filters to all the Holmes air filter systems in the house and that has helped a lot on making me breathe and feel better in the last few days.

I have been moving forward on the house window and siding project.  Would you believe the contractor and the Mortgage finance guys both left the original companies I contacted and now I’m having to redo some of the paperwork to get things done?   I’m moving ahead and with a little bit of luck, I should get the loan finished up this month and get the siding/window work started in September.

I am “solar powered” and get to be a very grumpy gus when confined to indoors for whatever reason. I have been getting a few (prepping) additions done on a small scale.  Mostly just rotating food and adding some items that sort of low.  When I cleaned the basement and added shelves I saw a few weak areas that needed to be address.  Nothing big as the 55 gallon drums are a good to go and my water supply is solid.  I just need to build up some of the everyday items I let get a bit low or out of date.

My new snow blower arrived today!  This weekend I’ll put it together and see if it functions.  I suspect another “hard winter” will happen so I’m trying to get ahead of the game with the small electric snowblower as I can’t shovel snow before I got disabled.  I’ll be adding a lot of salt for the front sidewalks and sand for the backyard along with a massive propane torch to melt the ice build up.

Some great news on Mom’s ankle and heel problems.  The physical therapists are working on her knee as well as the foot problem and her knee is gaining a lot more range of motion.  Mom’s knee has gone from about 10 degree bend to over 40 degree bend in just a week!  Plus she does not hurt so bad overnight.

Life has been a bit rough here at Casa de Chaos but things are looking good for the future.   Hell if it was easy everyone would play the game!

Last old shelf removed, Huzzah!

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I removed the last of the old shelving unit made of leftover “hollow core” doors.  I can tell you right now those doors do not make the best shelves for heavy items like cases of food or water bottles.  I have a request for the trash guys to come and pick up all the old wood doors, the pallets from the old compost pile and the old futon from the RV.  I could cut some of this junk/trash wood up, but I just want it gone and don’t want to put any more effort into trying to salvage this old, junky wood.  The trash guys will haul all of this stuff away to the dump or recycling for only $13.00 which is a good price for me.

I set up two of the new HDX plastic shelves in place of the old “door” shelves and it has really opened up that area of the basement for storage. I have a large plastic bin I want to store some of my pans and plastic food bins to keep them protected from any mousy poo in the future.  The last area to clean up is the stuff Mom stored in the basement when she moved here after the divorce.  That will be a big job and will have to wait until Mom gets healed up from her foot problems.  My hope is that a couple of weeks of the “boot” and the new insoles will get rid of Mom’s foot pain.

We got a few more dead mice this weekend and I vacuumed under Mom’s bed which had some mouse nest looking spots.  The big Shop vac made pretty short work  on the clean up.  This big shop vac has been one of my best purchases this year.  It did a darn good job on sucking up the water of my flooded shop in the spring and it has made cleaning up the basement mouse dropping easier this summer.  The shop vac is a very nice to have prepper tool.

I plan, God laughs! Things are getting done.

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One major thing I noticed with having the house sprayed for insects inside and outside is the flys are not so abbundant.  I have not sat outside much and tested id mosquitoes are less abbundant.  Getting rid of most of the flies was a big bonus all by itself!  Bad news is we do have roaches but Mom cleaned all the shelves and we have spread DE everywhere and have added boric acid in areas safe for pets and ourselves.  Early days, but I don’t see nearly as many roaches and the bugs I do see are young critters.  So I think we are doing pretty good so far with the DE and adding in the boric acid in pet safe areas to get at those buggies in the nest seems to be working.  This is a long term project of several weeks/months in order to kill out all the roaches.  Already I can see that we have screwed up the roaches feeding and water access and the DE and boric acid is starting to eliminate many of the bugs.

Honestly I think Mom and were starting to get on top of the mouse problem before we called in the exterminator.  Our method was not fast but it was persistent.  Of course washing/bleaching  all your cabinets and basement is not easy but it does make rodent infestations less likely and is a lot of work.  Another bonus of clean up/organizing yor preps is you now get to save what you want and get rid of all that stuff you stored “Just in case you might need it”.  I saved everything when I started prepping and there is a lot of crap I had on hand that was stuff I never used but I did not eliminate.  Don’t store something just to have it.  Be ruthless and store what you need/use because storage space for everyone is limited.   I have cleaned out a lot of items that I stored that no longer are needed in my preps.  Now I have more room for the Items I want to have on hand.

Mom is in a foot boot with a suspected Achilles tendon problem with one foot and plantar faciaitis problem with her heel.   So Mom is gimpy at the moment,  but I did learn a lot about some foot problems and some corrective measures.  If the corrective measures work I will share them with you.  The first day but Mom really likes the new Cadence foot insert after a long day along with shopping.  Buying one $50.00 insert that works is much cheaper than buying multiple “cheaper inserts” that don’t relieve the foot pain.  I get to play cheuffer for at least the next week. I don’t mind but driving around tends to wear me out.  I’m stronger than Mom on many jobs but I have no stamia. I’m good for about twohours then I need a break.  Mom and I make it work.

Good news it looks like the loan/refi is a done deal and all that is needed is an inspection.  I’m not going over board on the loan, just enough to get the job done and keep the same interest rate.  Keeping my house payment low is critical to me.  While I want the work done on my house, I don’t want to become a prisoner of my house.  I think the setup should get the work done, save a bit of money on utilities and make this a home I can live in for the nest few decades.

 

Moving stuff to new shelves is tedious

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Another old shelf cleaned off and removed!  The people who owned the house before me used nails for every thing except for this shelving so rather than busting apart the shelves I need to unscrew those big freaking deck screws that they used on the shelving.   Honestly, it will be easier now that I know it screws holding the shelf together. Low light levels and assumptions have made some of my demolition a bit more difficult.  Heck,  it was only one board, so I guess I should not complain too much!

Good news is Home depot has the shelves I like on sale till the 19th and I can add a couple of more without breaking the budget. I really like these HDX shelves as they are super easy to put together and the 44 inch height works great in my basement.  Since I have added more shelving and organized my preps I am gaining a lot more space to work with and can add more preps.  I think my basic food preps are solid, now I can add more of the health, tools as well as use the space more productively.  One thing I can say is it will be much easier to get things stored properly and keep the area clean in the future.

The focus for the next week will be clean up of all sorts. I have branch piles, wood pallets and even a quilt that needs cleaned via an industrial size washer and dryer.  The plan of attack is to work on yard cleanup during the cooler part of the day and then shift to the basement when it gets to hot to work outside.

Last but not least Mom picked up our solar eclipse glasses.  We will get totality for a minute or two,  though not quite as long as folks a few miles north of us.  Since this eclipse is happening in summer we should have clear skies in the morning to view it happen.  The last solar eclipse that happened in Idaho it was a cloudy winter/spring day in Lewiston and it got dark and quiet for a couple of minutes.  The Mt. St. Helen’s volcano eruption was more intriguing from 300 miles away.

Anyhoo to wrap this all up the basement is getting cleaned and organized.  The bug killing apocalypse continues on and we are still working on cleaning up stuff.  Once all the paper work is done I’ll post up some before and after pic on the house.

Ugh! Siding is going to be expensive

I got the estimate for siding and replacing all of windows and the cost will be around 20 grand.  Not a total surprise but a bit more expensive than I had hoped to pay.   I can’t say I’m surprised as the house is 100 years old so it needs some heavy duty maint. to get her everything working properly for the future. There are several bonuses on getting the siding and windows done that will pay off each month.

  1. The outside of the house will close all mouse and buggy holes.   Trust me eliminating those access areas is a very critical thing for me.
  2. Additional insulation:  This will really help in summer/winter costs and I will no longer have to put up plasic on my crappy windows.
  3. No more painting.  All I’ll need to do is spray down the house twice a year to keep it looking good.

Downside is I am adding debt but the house will gain value “supposedly”.  Well I don’t want to move so I suppose that is a bit of a wash overall.  This is my home and not some sort of investment.  But if I can get a low priced loan and improve the the home for me  I think it is a good trade off.  If it all works then the house exterion will be solid.

Basement cleanup is moving along though I may need to replace the  fiberglass insulation.  I have done all the cleanup, I can do and we still have bad aromas.  I like the IDEA of installing thermal barrier but it would be cheaper to replace the bad/mousy fiberglass insulation in the basement.

Overall I don’t recommend going deeper in debt but you have to adapt to the situation.  I’m disabled and having a low maint. home isalmost required for me.  Heck if you are young, strong and getting skills building or retrofitting a home my choices could be a bad choice for you.

One size fits all solution, seldom fit anyone in real life.

Ugh! Siding is going to be expensive

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I got the estimate for siding and replacing all of windows and the cost will be around 20 grand.  Not a total surprise but a bit more expensive than I had hoped to pay.   I can’t say I’m surprised as the house is 100 years old so it needs some heavy duty maint. to get her everything working properly for the future. There are several bonuses on getting the siding and windows done that will pay off each month.

  1. The outside of the house will close all mouse and buggy holes.   Trust me eliminating those access areas is a very critical thing for me.
  2. Additional insulation:  This will really help in summer/winter costs and I will no longer have to put up plasic on my crappy windows.
  3. No more painting.  All I’ll need to do is spray down the house twice a year to keep it looking good.

Downside is I am adding debt but the house will gain value “supposedly”.  Well I don’t want to move so I suppose that is a bit of a wash overall.  This is my home and not some sort of investment.  But if I can get a low priced loan and improve the the home for me  I think it is a good trade off.  If it all works then the house exterior will be solid.

Basement cleanup is moving along though I may need to replace some of the  fiberglass insulation.  I have done all the cleanup, I can do and we still have bad aromas.  I like the IDEA of installing thermal barrier but it would be cheaper to replace the bad/mousy fiberglass insulation in the basement.

Overall I don’t recommend going deeper in debt but you have to adapt to your situation.  I’m disabled and having a low maint. home is almost required for me.  Heck if you are young, strong and getting skills building or retrofitting a home, my choices could be a bad choice for you.

One size fits all solution, seldom fit anyone in real life.

Getting rid of bad odors and adding a DE via a duster

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I set out a couple of cups of “activated charcoal” to absorb odors in the basement.  The cost of activated charcoal is a bit costly but golly it works great for absorbing nasty odors and aromas!  Activated charcoal is offered as a filtration method for fish tanks and it is a great item for a prepper to have on hand for water filtration, odor removal and other applications us preppers might want on hand.

Welp, I have cockroaches and now I have to get rid of them.  So far Mom and I have added a lot of DE to the main areas we have seen the bugs in the kitchen and we are adding some to the big bathroom. Roaches can live weeks without food so this will not be a quick process.  It will take at least 2-3 months if not longer of being pro-active to eliminate the roaches.  Nice thing about DE is the roaches will track it back to their nests and it will help kill off the bug colony.  Also DE is much more pet and child friendly compared to Boric acid based bug killer.

My plan of attack is to go very heavy on DE and using bug spray when I see the roaches for a few weeks.  Then I’ll shift to the gel baits and traps for a couple of weeks and then back to DE as the primary bug killer.  I’m also working on removing all food and water sources for those little buggies.  Dirty dishes or dog food bowls are a freaking buffet for roaches and a basic kitchen garbage can feed them easily.

I found a great tool for laying down DE, a rose duster for powders.  For under $20.00 you can safely squirt DE powder into all those nooks and crannies around your house.  I think this a good item to have in your prep arsenal for insect control.

I’m the last person to past judgement on anyone for cleanliness as I have obviously failed in my preps and keeping the house vermin free.   That said I’m working on it and I have learned a lot about what not to do as a prepper.  Everything I have store properly is safe. My problem is I got lazy on some storage and now I’m dealing with the consequences of those choises.

Yep I screwed up!  Please don’t make the same mistakes I made.

 

Basement clean up and the exterminator.

OMG, I started cleaning on the last section of basement storage and it was semi-tough.  The big Shop vac has been outstanding for getting rid of the mouse poo but getting rid of urine smell and general nastiness takes a bit more effort.  Overall Mom was correct, cleaning up, storing  any food sources in hard bins and trapping.  Washing the walls down with a bleach cleaner really help killed the bad odors and interrupted the mouse travel paths.  Not perfect yet but with the new shelving  and moving the food around and cleaning off the exterior packaging we are making good progress on eliminating the mice and odors.

I have a roach problem but like mice the solution is simple if not easy.  I have spread around some DE and I’m removing all potential food or water sources.  I’ll check out the local suppliers for “Roach killers”  I want to try and correct the problem myself first and then call the exterminators if I fail.

I’m very peeved about the state of my siding and it must be replaced.  I know all about a home needing maintenance but this was a screw up from start.  Such is life and it is not fair at all.   So suck it up buttercup and make thing correct.  I love this house with all it’s assorted problems.  You pay now or you pay later.  I’m not good with that “paying later idea” as it gets expensive.

Good things happening!  The plants seemed to have adapted to the hot weather.  The new arctive cove mister fan is working great for cooling the chickens without “puddling”  and many small birds love  getting a little water spritz in the “chicken pen”.  The plants in the garden seem to have toughened up to 100 degree F. temps and no longer require the canvas tarps to shade the plants.

At this point it all about maintaining and killing the vermin safely.  I screwed up and got complacent about food storage.  Learn fom my mistakes and do it right the first time.  If you don’t you can always be like me playing catch up. I don’t recommend that mindset.

Basement clean up and the exterminator.

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OMG, I started cleaning on the last section of basement storage and it was semi-tough.  The big Shop vac has been outstanding for getting rid of the mouse poo but getting rid of urine smell and general nastiness takes a bit more effort.  Overall Mom was correct, cleaning up, storing  any food sources in hard bins and trapping.  Washing the walls down with a bleach cleaner really help killed the bad odors and interrupted the mouse travel paths.  Not perfect yet but with the new shelving  and moving the food around and cleaning off the exterior packaging we are making good progress on eliminating the mice and odors.

I have a roach problem but like mice the solution is simple if not easy.  I have spread around some DE and I’m removing all potential food or water sources.  I’ll check out the local suppliers for “Roach killers”  I want to try and correct the problem myself first and then call the exterminators if I fail.

I’m very peeved about the state of my siding and it must be replaced.  I know all about a home needing maintenance but this was a screw up from start.  Such is life and it is not fair at all.   So suck it up buttercup and make thing correct.  I love this house with all it’s assorted problems.  You pay now or you pay later.  I’m not good with that “paying later idea” as it gets expensive.

Good things happening!  The plants seemed to have adapted to the hot weather.  The new arctive cove mister fan is working great for cooling the chickens without “puddling”  and many small birds love  getting a little water spritz in the “chicken pen”.  The plants in the garden seem to have toughened up to 100 degree F. temps and no longer require the canvas tarps to shade the plants.

At this point it all about maintaining and killing the vermin safely.  I screwed up and got complacent about food storage.  Learn fom my mistakes and do it right the first time.  If you don’t you can always be like me playing catch up. I don’t recommend that mindset.

Got the mister fans in time for the heat wave

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I’m tweaking the set up for the chicken’s mist and fan set up as there has been some puddling in the chicken pen. This weekend I want to try some different setups with the fans and mist stands to find the “sweet spot”.  If you get misting for cooling I would recommend getting a larger size mist nozzle if you are using a misting stands rather than a set up that relies on gravity.  My new Articcove has a 1.3 gallon flow and works much better for cooling compared to the older model with less than 1 gallon flow.

The exterminators will be in on Monday!  We are getting both the mouse and bug barrier package deal.  The company I selected are about mid-range in cost but does not require a contract.  I hate yearly contracts and this company had great ratings plus  good customer service over the phone.  Ironically with all the clean up done in the basement we drove the mice up stairs. Hopefully the exterminators will finish off the mice and bugs and Mom and I will have a vermin free home going into winter.

I bought the HDX shelving from Home depot on sale. The shelving units were is to put together and works great in the basement in places with limited height.  I liked the shelves so much I bought 3 more for the basement after the first purchase.  So that should tell you some thing about the product.  I have one more section to clean and work on making my preps easy to access, make rotation more user friendly and more rodent proof.  While it does not seem I’ll use as much lumber for new shelving, I think I will have more space that will be easy to use and much easier to clean.  Mom did an outstanding job cleaning up the kitchen and laid down some DE to take out the bugs.  Another treatment that is not fast but darn effective if you maintain it.

Last but not least I’m getting some siding estimates for the house.  While I hate the idea of taking out a loan,  the house’s siding is awful and must be replaced. I’m looking at the a system that adds insulation, insect and vermin resistant, so this is not a cheap job. Vinyl siding is cheap but it is also as flammable as wood so I’m looking at a cement board that is at least fire resistant if not fire proof.  We will see the quotes this week.  Thank goodness I have a small 1200 sq. foot house and not a McMansion.  Another thing, while I like a good looking home I want a home that is good for retaining heating and cooling.  Vinyl siding sucks on  insulation, wood siding is great but as a disabled person “painting a home” every few years  is just not happening. So we will see about the costs and how my wish list will get scaled back to affordability.

In summation: the pets/critters and us humans are staying cool.  The exterminators are coming on Monday and I’m getting bids for the siding that will not only add insulation value and fire resistance,  but stop the mice/insects chewing their way into my home.  Hopefully we will get back to maintenance rather than dealing with “Emergency” management.

Progress?

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I added a few more of the Balsam wood sachets to the crawl space area and we are no longer hearing the chewing sounds in the walls.  It seems to be working but it is still early days in this test.  Our trapped mouse count is way down, so at least we have caught most of young and dumb mice. Another section of the basement has been cleaned up and got rid of some of the cloth nesting areas removed.  I’m not sure if we are getting rid of  all mice but we have removed all of  easy access food sources, nesting materials and cleaned up with bleach to stop the mice runs and the poo the mice tend to leave everywhere they go.  As I am building/buying proper shelves and additional storage containers we are eliminating any mouse habitats and I have to say any food in buckets, totes and stored in the barrels have not been breached by mice.  Overall I think the balsam oil sachets are a good preventive measure and can help if you have a mouse infestation.  These sachets are a bit pricy but they do seem to be effective.   Using bleach solution/cleaner is also effective in disruppting the mouse runs along the walls and the mice don’t seem to like the bleach smell.  I like the Clorox brand urine odor remover that is good on all surfaces from fabic to wood to concrete.  This product has almost no odor and seems very effective eliminating urine odors.

Summer heat is comming on with a vengence this week so we need to protect some of the crops in the garden.  Light weight canvas painter clothes seem to a great job of protecting the plants.  Burlap also seems to do quite well protecting the crops.  Twenty dollar investment in cloth and stakes can prevent your crops getting burnt by the summer sun.   Remember you don’t want to block all sun just the high temp sun beating down in the afternoon.

In the Alley way garden I bought a few more Sedum plant called “hen &chicks”  that are spreaders.  My plan is the sedums will fix the soil and help choke out weeds.  I think the sunchokes and sedums are good plants to start with plantings.  The mulch is keeping most “nasty weeds” controlable and in time I can share out this solution to all my alleyway neighbors.  An alley way of sedum and sunchokes is much better than an alley way filled with “cheat” grass or goatheads/puncture vine.   All it takes is a bit of mulch and digging up the bad weeds.  Gosh I can  pull up thistle easily as the wood mulch makes weeds much easier to pull  and get roots.  If this planting works I will use the sedum to help choke out the morning glory in the front yard rose beds.  Gosh I hate Morning glory plants!

Plan of attack for next week: work the garden and yard in the cool AM and then attack the basement and indoor jobs when it gets very hot outdoors.  I have to say the little portable AC unit is doing an outstanding job keeping the front part of the house cool.

The dog anti-anxety  medicine seems effective though we have not had a lot of fire works shot off so far.  Tuicker the peke seems to be okay as long as the fireworks are intermittent and not so loud.   I agree with him and never served in a combat zone either.

 

We got one job finished! Calling in the exterminators.

I can officially state that the compost pile is complete and all off the materials have been moved into place and got a lot of water to get it building up some heat so it can break down the materials correctly.  I need to add in some more “browns” and will move a straw bale closer to the compost area to add to the pile easily.  Adding a straw layer should keep all unpleasant odors and bad bugs to a minimum.  I have to say I have not had a problem with odors even with the old Pallet compost pile.

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Using a leaf blower on your compost heap. Air or at least oxygen makes the compost heap work better. While it might be a pain/ require effort adding air to your heap is a good thing and almost as critical as adding water, browns or greens.  When you turn over a pile you are adding air. There is no reason you can’t use a leaf blower to add a bit of air to the heap.  I think it is a lot easier to use a blower to turn the compost heap rather than turning it by a fork, if you can be effective.

Mom got to use the weed wacker today along with a block of instruction. She knocked down the alley way weeds and I’m getting a lot of mulch on sale.  That thick layer of mulch should help keep the weeds under control as some puncture vine/goat heads are trying to creep into the beds.  The Sunchokes and sedums have done a good job as “good plants” that choke out the weeds but  I need to spread them along with more mulch out in the alley beds.  So far both plants have not spread but have just got thicker and bunched up.   The best way I think to explain how the sunchokes spread is like Iris flowers.  Like Irises they need to be thinned and replanted.  I would recommend using sunchokes if you have a hot/sunny area with poor soil and limited water as a great plant to help choke out weeds plus the plant roots/rhizomes are edible.  My sedums have done okay in the alley way garden but now they are getting expensive to buy as they are very popular with zeroscape/ drought tolerant landscapes.

Mice and bug problem is beyond us and we are getting some info on having in some exterminators.  I’ve added more tincat metal traps and sprayed down the outside of the house and much of the inside with bug barrier and we are still losing ground in this battle.  I’m still gathering info and quotes for the job to get done in July but so far it looks like the cost will be about $200.00.  I think if we get the critters stopped from breeding more critters for a couple of months, Mom and I can maintain getting rid of the critters!

Sometimes you just get overwhelmed and must call in the specialists for a problem.  I don’t there is anything wrong in spending money for pros if you have done your best and failed to correct the the problem.  I have really learned how important it is to store everything in good containers.  None of my food barrels, buckets or bins have been breached so I did that part of food storage correctly.  I failed when I put something in the basement and did not store it properly right away.   Add in a tough winter and you get an explosion of problems.  I’m not saying you should not have traps, pesticides and other ways of preventing any infestation.  Right now you can call in the pros to help get your home vermin free. Maintenance is a lot cheaper than trying to get rid of an infestation.

We got one job finished! Calling in the exterminators.

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I can officially state that the compost pile is complete and all off the materials have been moved into place and got a lot of water to get it building up some heat so it can break down the materials correctly.  I need to add in some more “browns” and will move a straw bale closer to the compost area to add to the pile easily.  Adding a straw layer should keep all unpleasant odors and bad bugs to a minimum.  I have to say I have not had a problem with odors even with the old Pallet compost pile.

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Using a leaf blower on your compost heap. Air or at least oxygen makes the compost heap work better. While it might be a pain/ require effort adding air to your heap is a good thing and almost as critical as adding water, browns or greens.  When you turn over a pile you are adding air. There is no reason you can’t use a leaf blower to add a bit of air to the heap.  I think it is a lot easier to use a blower to turn the compost heap rather than turning it by a fork, if you can be effective.

Mom got to use the weed wacker today along with a block of instruction. She knocked down the alley way weeds and I’m getting a lot of mulch on sale.  That thick layer of mulch should help keep the weeds under control as some puncture vine/goat heads are trying to creep into the beds.  The Sunchokes and sedums have done a good job as “good plants” that choke out the weeds but  I need to spread them along with more mulch out in the alley beds.  So far both plants have not spread but have just got thicker and bunched up.   The best way I think to explain how the sunchokes spread is like Iris flowers.  Like Irises they need to be thinned and replanted.  I would recommend using sunchokes if you have a hot/sunny area with poor soil and limited water as a great plant to help choke out weeds plus the plant roots/rhizomes are edible.  My sedums have done okay in the alley way garden but now they are getting expensive to buy as they are very popular with zeroscape/ drought tolerant landscapes.

Mice and bug problem is beyond us and we are getting some info on having in some exterminators.  I’ve added more tincat metal traps and sprayed down the outside of the house and much of the inside with bug barrier and we are still losing ground in this battle.  I’m still gathering info and quotes for the job to get done in July but so far it looks like the cost will be about $200.00.  I think if we get the critters stopped from breeding more critters for a couple of months, Mom and I can maintain getting rid of the critters!

Sometimes you just get overwhelmed and must call in the specialists for a problem.  I don’t there is anything wrong in spending money for pros if you have done your best and failed to correct the the problem.  I have really learned how important it is to store everything in good containers.  None of my food barrels, buckets or bins have been breached so I did that part of food storage correctly.  I failed when I put something in the basement and did not store it properly right away.   Add in a tough winter and you get an explosion of problems.  I’m not saying you should not have traps, pesticides and other ways of preventing any infestation.  Right now you can call in the pros to help get your home vermin free. Maintenance is a lot cheaper than trying to get rid of an infestation.

The new compost pile frame is done

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I really screwed up on one measurement, actually my math.  I transposed a number measuring but it was not a big deal as I just cut the lumber to size and fixed my screw up.  So I have slightly smaller compost bin and a slightly larger bin which might work out okay overall.   The smaller bin ( honestly it less than 12 inches difference from the original plan)  will be the daily added to pile and the larger bin will the mix station / pull compost area.  The fence brackets made putting the bins together much easier plus having the new Ryobi drill made very quick work of drilling in the screws.   At this time the compost walls are not as “rigid” as I anticipated but I can easily add more support lumber as needed in the future

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The old compost pile walls.

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The new compost pile walls

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Much prettier than old compost pile pallet walls.

For this project I used pressure treated lumber as the basic framing and then cedar fencing boards to contain the the compost. My hope is the slats in the cedar fencing will allow plenty of air to the compost heap and discourage the bad bugs.  I learned a lot about basic construction though I did have a few fails during the process.  Theory is all well and good but after a certain point you must put theory into practice and learn from the mistakes you will make. Or at least the mistakes I make!

Don’t get me wrong you can build some great stuff using pallets.  I just did not know how to build stuff so I half assed  it and it showed!

Added in new plant to the corn beds.  I dropped the ball on planting heirloom corn this year so I planted some sweet corn in the new beds.   Mom loves sweet potato fries so we have added those plants to the new beds.  Will it work, I have no idea but if we get even a couple of pounds of sweet potatoes the plant is paid for and we will learn a new thing and that is priceless.

 

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Excellent shopping day

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I got a great tool bargain at Home depot.  Rather than buying the drill and getting a free tool instead I bought the 18 volt drill + impact driver set for $99.00 and got the 10% vet discount! So the price was only $89.10 for both tools.  I got a 5/8 in. sheet of plywood cut into 2×8 ft.sections for $25.00 and add in eight, 1×3 inch boards to start the basement shelf building project.  At this time I’m working to re-enforce and add new shelves to an existing frame work hence the smaller dimensional lumber.

One thing I noticed today is the cashier at Home depot was sort of defensive or tried to explained that the 10% discount did not apply to all items.  I’m a disabled vet and I love how some companies give a vet discount but no company is required to give a discount to vets.  No cashier needs to be attacked if a vet discount is not applied.  If you don’t like the policy, write a letter to corporate or rant on the internet but, leave the cashier alone.

Most or the replacement garden veggies were available for the replacement plants that did not do great from my starts.  I bought some sweet corn, celery and sweet potatoes that Mom wants to try growing.  No luck so far with finding tomitillo plants but I know from last year those plant start off slow and then explode with growth so I have not given up hope yet!  The worst thing that can happen is that raised bed lies fallow and I build up the soil so it is not a bad situation.

This may sound a bit strange but I am more interested in learning how to grow a garden rather than what food a garden can produce.  Many people that never had a garden think growing a good garden is easy.  It is not easy at all and requires a lot of effort.  For me any veggies I get is a bonus, my focus is on building up a sustainable garden out of my own resources.  Learning to work with my land and then improve it as much as possible before the need to grow a garden is upon us.

It is very easy for a government to mandate everyone must grow a garden,  (ala Venezuela) for food but we all know that just tossing out a few seeds and hope for the best is a terrible way to grow a  good garden.

Thursday and Mom does not have a master gardeners BS class to go to so the plan of attack is trim up and perhaps cut down the dead cherry tree and finish up building the stuff needed for the properly built compost pile.  My carpentry skills/knowledge are mediocre at best but I have built a few simple things and now I can build “larger” simple projects.  I can’t say you can succeed on trying new project.  I can guarantee if you never try doing anything new you will fail.

 

Effective puttering today. Plus tool shopping!

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We hit 96 degrees F. today here at Casa de Chaos.  I know it’s crazy how we have high temps in the desert in June but what can you do?   What I did is buy a small 8000 BTU portable A/C unit for under $200.00.  This little unit has really made the whole house much more comfortable even when it does not cool down at night.  I’ll be checking out our electrical usage but so far this June has been cool and wet compared to last year.  I love having many small A/C units as I can control my energy use/ cooling and heating by room or what I can afford to spend on energy.  Having the ability to create on warm room in winter or a cool room in summer gives you a lot of flexibility as a prepper.

A small 2000-3000 watt generator can run a small A/C unit.  Powering up a whole house A/C unit requires a large generator and lots of fuel.  A plus to using a few small A/C units is they are very easy to replace cost wise and if one unit dies you still have some cooling.   The prepper mantra is all about redundancy.  No one failure exposes you to total failure of your system.

Ryobi sale at Home depot! This a great sale for me as I love my Ryobi mister fan and  compact drill that has been awesome to use while making my firewood boxes and new compost frame work.  The sale is a buy one 18 volt drill and get another tool free sale and I’m getting the hammer drill.  I would have liked getting the fan if it charged batteries when  connected to 110 volt power.  Nope the fan is an either connect to the grid or use the battery.  I would have liked the battery powered sprayer but that was not an optional free tool.   I love how Ryobi has made most cordless tools compatible via the 18 volt interchangeable batteries and all inclusive battery chargers.  I have several old drills,    the Makita  and Dewalt are both 9.6 volt battery powered.  I choose the compact 9.6 volt Ryobi first on jobs and it has no problem going though a total of 6 inches of pressure treated lumber.  Now give me an 18 volt version add in a charger an impact hammer type drill and 2 batteries for under $100.00 I’m gonna jump on that sale!

Last but not least I finally fixed the screen door hydraulics for closing  the door. Most screen doors have a Hydraulic piston to close the door and mine got ripped out during a wind storm a few years back.  My reaction with the screen door is a bit different than I expected.  Don’t get me wrong I love the new set up but I got used to closing my screen door.  It feels a bit strange to have the door resist a bit on opening an close itself even though that is what I wanted !

Added in the Mulch along the walkways.  That is the downside of mulch walkways, replacing the mulch.  Of course if you are replacing mulch that means the mulch is breaking down and adding good stuff to the soil. Which is why I chose to mulch my backyard paths.

 

 

More cleanup hints and tips

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It seems that we have made some progress on the mouse problem in the basement.  Ironically we now have a bit of a problem of the mice moving into the main floor and into the closet and bedroom areas.   In a way this is good news as it means we are starting to affect the mouse problem in the basement, downside is we have the mice coming up to the main floor.   I’m trying out some strategies for attacking the problem in the living areas.

  1. A lot more sticky traps are being laid out in the living areas.  While sticky traps are not reusable they are much safer than Snap-traps to use if you have pets, children or if your hand strength is a bit “iffy” because of a handicap.
  2. Adding more of the Tomcat traps for closets bedrooms and perhaps the attic.  These are very safe and effective traps even if you use a bit of grain for bait.  I’m going to get a small Snack pack size peanut butter from the local dollar store to be the bait for the new traps.
  3. The “Pet safe” mouse pellets were a bust!  We found 1 mouse that might have died via the pellets.  I recommend you buy a Tom cat trap instead of wasting your money on a bag of those pellets.
  4. The Balsam oil sachets did help with the odors and seemed to start moving mice out of  the basement.  I think the Fresh Cab Rodent repellent sachets are worth a try for getting rid of rodents and maybe a good preventative to help keep mice away.

Cleanup multi-taskers:

  1. The Clorox urine spray seems to work equally well on all animal urine odors and cleanup.
  2. Washing down the basement walls/floor with a mild bleach solution  (10 parts water to 1 part bleach) seems to disrupt the mouse trails as well as sanitize.  Plus it really helps get rid of the urine odor on hard surfaces at a low cost.
  3. I dropped the ball on this but a disinfectant spray is a great thing to use before you start clean up.  I did not even think about giving the dirty area a good spray down before I started my cleanup.  I had few can of this Lysol type disinfectant spray but only added it to day on the basement cleanup.

Things done this week:

I got the lawn mowed and added about 8 bags of mulch to the backyard walk areas.  Mom weeded the garden and got the grape vines cut back from the 3 sisters garden.

Re-organized a cabinet and sprayed down some bug barrier spray in the kitchen.

Plan for this week:

  • Get a Ryobi impact driver tool and perhaps fan that is rechargeable.
  • Finish up the compost bin walls and cut down a dead cherry tree.
  • Get wood delivered, stacked and covered so it can dry.
  • Finish cleaning up the basement food storage area.
  • Buy plywood for shelves in the basement buy paint to protect the wood shelves.

Gosh that is plenty to get done for a week.  Mom is focusing on getting her “community service hours” for her Master Gardeners class, so I’m going to be doing many jobs myself.  Don’t worry I’ll only start cutting the tree when I have Mom as backup.

I’ve been prepping for almost a decade and I still think of myself as a newbie to prep because I still make mistakes.  Mistakes are how I have learned on my little adventure.   Remember there is a very good chance you will screw up while you are learning and that is a good thing!  I really “SCREWED THE POOCH” on my basement storage.  No drama needed, I am just trying to correct my screw ups.  Learn from my mistakes and save time, effort and money on your prepping adventure.

Tools and stuff I using for cleanup. Another cheap solar solution

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This winter I bought a large 5 gallon shop vac for dealing with the flooding in my shop.  With the addition of some bags and some brush tools the vac works great for getting up the mouse droppings, plus we don’t have to worry about the dust or spreading anything via the shop vac exhaust.  I have a small 1.5 gallon Shop vac that has worked out great cleaning the laundry area and closets where the big shop vac is difficult to maneuver around in tight quarters.  My only complaint about the Shop vacs is the power cords are too short and I have to use an extension cord for almost every job. I don’t think using your regular vacuum to clean up a vermin infestation is a good idea.  Save that house vacuum for your everyday cleaning chores and get a cheap shop vac for around $20.00-$60.00 depending on the size and features.

Cleaning off the existing shelves I have been using a “Shop brush” ($2.00 Harbor Freight) and an oversized dust pan ($1.00) Dollar Tree.  These tools work great for cleaning  shelves that have open areas between the slats.  You can place some newspaper below the shelf and just sweep everything onto the paper or into the oversized dust pan.   I am looking into building some of my shelves with smaller 1×2 or 1×3 and painting all shelves with a semi-gloss paint so they will not absorb odors and will be easy to clean in the future.

Cleaning solutions:  The Clorox urine remover is working out great! I bought a spray bottle to try it out ($5.00 Lowe’s)  but I will be buying the large jug ($13.00 Lowe’s) for my cleaning supply.  What I like most is this cleaner works on all surfaces and has not bleached or discolored my furniture or carpets.  I’m using a mild bleach solution to clean the cement/concrete wall of my basement area. The mice don’t seem to care for bleach solution or it disrupts the scent pathways they establish.   Mom and I are cleaning the buckets with the mild bleach solution and so far we have not found any mouse dropping on those cleaned buckets.  The basement is smelling better overall and in the area we have cleaned still smells clean after 5 days.

Traps:  Tom, I have added one of those Victor Tin cat traps in the basement and using a bit of grain rather than peanut butter as bait. In the last four days we have caught 10 adult mice.  I’m using a lot of sticky traps in the house as Snap traps are difficult for me to set and use.  Heck even the local Dollar store has those sticky traps though it may take laying out the traps in groups of 2 or 3  traps to catch the mice, they do work.  One thing I have learned about sticky traps the more surface area the trap has the better it works for catching mice.   Over all I think the Tomcat metal re-usable traps are a better solution for a prepper.  I think adding sticky traps when you find them on sale are great and should be added to preps.

Last but not least clean up item, construction grade trash bags.  These bags have a heavy mil of 2-6 depending on on what you buy and are great multi-taskers.  This last winter we did not have trash pickup for over 6 weeks.   I do have a bit of an advantage with the wood stove to burn most paper trash.  While I had extra cans on hand for trash I was ready with those super thick bags to hold trash. I live in a small city and if my neighbors don’t contain trash properly the vermin will affect me and not just them.

Okay now the fun shopping stuff for the day.  I bought a small under counter LED light that runs on rechargeable batteries for $20.00 at Home Depot.  What is great,  is the light is recharged via a USB cable and all of my power packs and my fold able 15 watt solar panel has USB connection for power.  This a great way for me to start a solar powered light system for the kitchen via a solar panel/ power pack but still can be recharged via the electric company’s outlets.  No direct wiring is need to install  this little LED lamp. You don’t need a large solar array to take advantage of solar energy.  A small solar panel system that charges a small battery bank can be a great start.   I have a small power pack that that can jump a dead car battery though I have not tested it for charging via my little solar panel.  As soon as the sun comes out in SW Idaho I will test it out.

 

 

Stopped the dogs pissing contest?

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I got out the carpet cleaner and cleaned the living room rug and used the upholstery attachments to scrub the lower part of the furniture.  I used Clorox brand urine remover for stains and odors to pre-treat the furniture and rug areas that were involved in the “pissing contest” and then used the Bissell pet odor control type carpet shampoo.

Over all I like the Clorox cleaner as it does not try to cover up the pet smells with fragrance.  The Clorox cleaner also seems quite effective eliminating the mouse urine and poo smell in the basement cleanup.  I also like the fact that the Clorox Urine Remover seems to be equally effective on both hard and fabric surfaces. My rugs nor my furniture had any problem with bleaching or the running of colors using this product.  I also rearranged the furniture and that seems to have stopped the primary pissing spot for the dogs despite the fact I need to do another rug and furniture cleaning to get rid of the odors that my human nose can pick up.   I need to follow-up with the rug and furniture cleaning to stop odors but I think I have made a darn good start of the living room being used as the dogs pissing contest arena.

Onto the laundry area cleanup and it seems to have worked out great!  While I have a bit of extra space to move both the washer and dryer, cleaning under those appliances presents a bit of a challenge.  I used the small shop vac to clean up the mouse poo and then the Clorox urine stain remover on the linoleum to clean up the mousy mess.  Last but not least I used a disinfecting spray on the walls.  OMG it worked out great for killing all the bad odors in about 12 hours!  I’m not sure why the lag time happened on getting rid of odors but I’m glad my clean up worked!  I think a disinfecting spray (Lysol or generic equal) is a good addition to your preps.  I laid out a whole bunch of sticky traps in the laundry area to try to eliminate more mice.

While early days I don’t think there is no one solution to a vermin problem be it bugs or mice.  Good storage procedures is probably the best 1st step but you will still have random vermin problems and that’s where reusable traps are huge help dealing with vermin.  A mild sanitizing solution of bleach used on hard surfaces seems to disrupt both insect and mouse trails.  As per Lee Anne’s worry no buckets, bins or barrels have been breached.  I did have one busted water jug but that looks like human clumsiness/error not mice.

Mom cleaned out her closet and it seems the mice did find some nesting areas but I think Mom’s cleaning efforts let the mice know that nesting area is now shut down.  In a way we are shutting down food sources, water sources and nesting sources in the house that will no longer give mice a place to live in the house, chicken coop or the shop.  The mice are welcome to live in the great outdoors.

Tom, I will check out the Tomcat traps.  around here I have only seen the Tomcat plastic traps but I may not have noticed the metal traps.  Mom and I bought several metal traps that sound similar to the traps you describe.  Today I got 4 adult mice in the basement trap set for 24 hours.  I moved a dog food feeding area and some how lots of  dog kibble got transported close to the wall.   That is now cleaned up and we moved the doggie feeding area!  So far the best answer seems to be is eliminate food sources, set out traps and keeps stuff as clean as possible.  I do think Peppermint oil or Balsam sachet might help for preventing a mouse infestation but once you have mice you just have to clean and set out a lot of traps.

It’s not all bad, I have a lot of motivation to build all those storage shelves now!

My 3 sister garden has been over run by grape vines so seems to be a no go in the current area.  Note to self never start a garden close to grape vines.  In a way it is wonderful as the grape vines are putting out healthy growth.  A little less than conducive to my 3 sisters beds.

OMG the Cabbages and lettuce cole crop front beds look wonderful! It has not been all that hot and the arugula bed bolted already.  Well we can harvest seeds at worst.  I need to weed the cabbage beds that  look lovely and are growing great.

Gosh I understand how easy it is to get distracted as everything can become an emergency.  Mostley it is not an emergency!  Though some issues are critical. Cleaning my food storage area is a priority,  it is not an emergency!

Looking at the big picture can make a person freeze or lockup.  It’s simple,  pick a job and complete the job.  It’s simple it is just not easy.

Gosh I have rambled on a bit.  Mom and I going to build a garden tool bucket and blg about it.

More cleanup news and finishing a project.

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We cleaned up the food buckets and barrels,  plus moved the buckets to the top of the barrels. I filled one large tote up with some food packages that could have become mouse food.  We found a cracked 5 gallon water container that got trashed.  Mom and I knocked down some cobwebs, so I sprayed the areas that were cleaned for bugs using a bug barrier insecticide. This job will take several days to accomplish because of out physical limitations as well as working in a limited space in my basement.  We are trying to clean, inventory and create new storage solutions all at the same time.

The large 5 gallon shop vac has worked out great for cleaning up the mouse poo but having a crevice tool and small brush tool is a great addition as most of the shop vac tools I have focus on water pickup.  The shop vac is so strong is the tool sucks up tight to the cement floor and does not pick up stuff like poo with the basic attachments.  I have a new brush attachment I will try out and give you a report on how it works for cleanup!

Ironically/annoyingly our clean up in the basement seems to be driving the mice and bugs up into the main house.  The worst areas seem to be my  laundry area and kitchen.  I got out my little shop vac and put the dryer on a small furniture cart so I could clean under the dryer.  I’m ashamed to say under the dryer and washer was very nasty.  I cleaned the area using the small shop vac and a couple of Clorox products I wanted to try out.  I cleaned the floor and I added a lot of sticky traps.

I wish I had a quick fix to give you that worked for me but so far it’s all about going back and correcting my “laziness”  on getting my preps stored correctly and making new shelves that are easy to clean and any infestation are dealt with quickly.  I’m getting a big reminder that preps are not a build and forget system!

We have a new critter here at Casa de Chaos and he is a young not neutered( not neutered by us,  because we still hope an owner might show up)  terrier.  Well at least 2 of the dogs are in a “pissing” contest and some of my furniture seems to be the arena for the doggie dominance contest.  Needless to say the odors have got a bit overpowering.  The dogs can go outside to do their thing so the next step was to eliminate the odor and move stuff around so marking territory in the house became irrelevant to the dogs.

So far I am trying a Clorox cleaner for cleaning urine smells on both hard and soft (fabric) surfaces.  I won’t say it is perfect dealing with a large odor problem but I give them props as they don’t try to mask the problem via pleasant aromas.  Cleaning the carpet because dogs don’t just pee on furniture they pee on rugs.  Before you tell me to rub a dog’s nose in the poo. Dogs know what poo smells like and is not the best educational deterrent for the dog.  My dogs a pretty smart!  They know I don’t want to see them peeing on the furniture.  The dogs are missing that I never want them peeing on the furniture at anytime.

Last but not least, smoker candles are the best for eliminated unpleasant odors.  Most aroma stuff tends to be some one “pissed a pine tree or farted a cinnamon roll” sort of solution.  Masking the smell is not a good solution.  Eliminating the the odor is the solution I am working on now.

Basement cleanup started!

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The job of cleaning and organizing things properly has begun in the “Chaos” basement.   It started with a trip to Home depot to get some cleaning gloves, some thermal barrier to replace any funky mouse contaminated insulation and some 2×4 to start building some proper shelving for storage in the basement.  I picked up a Shop Vac filter bag to vacuum up the mouse poo and keep it contained.  Mice are darn dirty critters and so Mom and I are using a bleach solution that not only cleans but sanitizes.  Great news is all of my storage bins and buckets have not been compromised by the mice chewing into the plastic to get at food.  So my basic storage premise does work.  My problem is I did not properly store preps and I did not keep improving my systems of storage.  In a “nutshell”  my basic concept was great!  But I did not make it easy to use long term.

A report on the Haier portable A/C unit.  Overall I’m pleased withe the purchase based on the unit’s performance on wonky weather week.  I live in high desert and usually get cool evenings in the summer, so a box fan in the window can bring more cool night air.  That is not a slam on this unit just my situation at this time.

I do think this would make a great unit for most preppers compared to depending on Central A/C.  The fan is darn good and the compressor kicks in when it hits a set cooling point. This A/C unit will not cool your average home but it will cool a living room or large bedroom.  I live in the low humidity west but this unit also works as a dehumidifier and has a simple system that will notify you in case it has moisture build up. I think this is a good purchase and you can power this unit via a small generator in the 2000-3000 watt range.

My preps were built to survive first and thrive second.  Not getting dead because of stupidity/ignorance is also high on my list.  I can’t afford a BIG generator for my  home electric needs I can afford to go solar for lighting.  I can afford a small generator to do some electrical power off the grid.  I can afford to get a small fold-able solar panel set up and a couple of small battery back ups to have on hand.   Perfect?  NOPE!  just good enough to function.  I have several small A/C units and my overall electrical costs are lower compared to Central air,  and I have gained a lot of flexibility with where and when I cool.

Gosh I have “screwed the pooch” on not making sure my food preps were secure and now I have to work to rectify that mistake.  I was just lazy and had other things that seemed more critical at the time .  This stuff happens and golly it sure will happen if the SHTF!  So if you screw up just work to fix it!  My mice infestation hit a bit early but if the SHTF you will have to deal with those vermin.  Please learn from my mistakes during ” good times”.

 

I worked at Evergreen State college

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Okay it was in the 90’s but I was told I could not deliver a cart of catered snacks to a Women of Color office because I was white.  I’m not white at best I’m beige or tan and I’m a women! Nope not allowed and Evergreen does not have grades at all!  If you are a moron and gained a supposed 50% of knowledge Evergreen considers you a success!   Business people you do not want to hire a an Evergreen College graduate.

Random thoughts

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I started quitting smoking around October of 2016. I am using vapes and I still use roll your own smokes.  On average I smoke 3-7 smokes per day and on a heavy smoke day it is 10-12 cigarettes.  My smokers cough is gone and my smeller is back.  I’m not saying anyone should quit smoking but going to vapes does  eliminate the tobacco smoke smell and it is also a lot cheaper for now.  The progressive Puritans are all about saving the “Sinners” until it cuts into their tax moneys.  Vapeing should be wonderful for the progressives as there is no second hand smoke.  Ah but the Progressives move the goal posts again.  If you vape the Big Pharma gets no love on the nicorette gum sold for about the cost of a carton of cigs.  Also vapeing is a more effective way of quitting smoking compared to Big Pharma solutions. The PTBs don’t care if you die you just must die in their socially approved manor.

I like the Aspire series of vapors,  the batteries are replaceable and the atomizer are relatively inexpensive. I also like the Red vector juice in 24 mg and 12 mg of nicotine.  I’m still pissing off the puritanical progressives by quitting smoking via socially unapproved methods.   If the progressives truly wanted an end to smoking they would love vaping as there is no second hand smoke and it it safer, though not safe to smoking.  So what do the progressives do they treat vaping the same as smoking and want to tax it!

If you can start challenging the progressive system in a nice way.  If you vape do it in a non-smoking restaurant.  If the management asks you to stop and ask why?  Challenge the status quo! I personally don’t want to see small businesses crippled but the time has come to pick a side! We don’t want much just to vape rather than smoke should be a no-brainer.  My gosh who is triggered in an adult bar by a vape?

The A/C unit is working great, stopped a 90 + degree day from happening!

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I’m quite impressed that buying this A/C unit seems to have affected the weather patterns over the Pacific Northwest and has caused massive cooling specifically to SW Idaho.   Of course I am joking as correlation is not causation especially since one small A/C unit probably does not affect the global weather patterns!

That being said it does seem to me that the weather models seem to be off after the massive El Nino that happened last year.  Last year at this time it was about 105 degrees F. this time in June and we had a massive snow fall last winter. Now based on my memories, I think we are seeing a weather pattern similar to the late 1980’s cold snow/icy winters and a later but hot summer. Rather than the warmer winters and cooler summers of the mid 2000’s here in SW Idaho.  This is a guess on my part that weather runs in a cycle in decades and not just seasons.  For example, I have lived in this house for 14 years but last year was the first year I had a pipe freeze in my house and it was not all that cold this winter but it was cold for a longer time frame.

June is the month to start getting ready for winter.  I have a lot to do getting rid of the mice infestation and rebuilding the compost pile and and gardening is ongoing,  I am  planing  out what I need for the winter.

  • Wood racks and more firewood: I had plenty of fire wood my problem was my fire wood got wet via ice, snow and a fast melt off.  Solution: build more simple wood racks and cover them with tarps this year and add a “kindling box”.  July have the chimney sweep clean the wood stove and add one more pipe to ensure a good draw on the chimney.  City code is a great place to start for safety but I seem to need and a bit more height on my pipe stack to get a good air draw.
  • Adding salt and sand barrels:  I could not find a salt solution for ice in my backyard that was not hard on my doggies paws.  Also while salt can melt ice it sucks for providing traction.  Sand is great for traction so I want to add a salt barrel for the front yard and a sand barrel for the backyard/alley way for traction.
  • A propane weed burner:  I doubt I will use this to burn weeds.  I can use it to melt ice!  I’m handicapped and can’t break ice apart using a steel bar, sledge hammers and other physically intense systems.
  • An electric snow blower:  I can shovel off a small snow fall.  I can’t shovel a non-plowed street or alleyway.  If I get a small electric snow blower, the alley way could be kept clear if proactive.  We might check out the cost on adding a plow blade for the dually truck,  but I’m guessing the $150.00 dollar cost for an electric snowblower is much more affordable than a snow plow/blade.

You can always start today on your preps, home stead or doom stead no matter what your circumstances are currently.  Don’t be afraid of failure, as failure tends to be the best teacher.  I screw up a lot though I do think my screw ups are getting a bit less noticeable on some things.  Then again the mouse infestation was a darn big screw up based on me not being proactive and following good storage procedures. So far it’s a big job to fix but I will not die because of my screw ups.  The fix on this is not going to be pretty but I do hope the fix is effective.

In conclusion it is better to do things the correct way the first time, but I’m human and I do tend to get lazy or simply trust things won’t go wrong.  Gosh, I can’t imagine why I thought that!  I forgot Murphy’s Law “Everything will go wrong and at the least convenient moment”.

It’s going to be a cool day Monday and I can build the middle section of the compost pile and pull /mix stuff up.  Add a bit of greens and hope to complete the build in a day or two so the chickens can get busy mixing stuff up.  There is nothing wrong with taking some time and planning but at the eventually you must do something even if it is wrong because that is how you learn.

 

New portable AC unit arrived!

I have to say the little 8000 BTU Haier AC unit from newegg.com was very well packaged.  The unit is more bulky than heavy at 56 pounds.  The wheels/casters make the unit easy to move around. the fixture for exhaust/air intake did not work well with my large picture window but I have to admit it would work great for a smaller window that either slides vertically or horizontally.  A bit of thermal barrier will take care of any small gaps.  Over all I have to give Haier props for making an effective window intake/exhaust vent as well as supplying some window tape/insulation.  I did not have to take out my window screen to use this mount so that save a lot of work on my part.  My biggest problem was with using the collapsible tube and installing the plastic vents for window to the back of the A/C unit.  The tube is heavy duty but as soon as you applied pressure the tube would collapse.  You need to twist the plastic fixtures onto the tube and avoid kinks.  Easy fixes and more annoying rather than a design flaw by Haier.

I tried out the unit today but it was a relatively cool 82-85 degrees F.  This weekend it’s supposed to hit the mid 90’s F. which will make a much better test on how the A/C unit cools.  I will say that the whole hose seemed to keep a cooler temp.  and Mom and I did not need to kick up our window A/C units for a cool house today.

Things I like about this unit: Overall it has a good setup for installing a portable A/C unit in a window.   The fan function seems very good and the compressor seems responsive of kicking on the compressor or going to fan mode based on the set temp.  drops below the temp settings you choose.  It seems quiet on fan settings and even when the compressor kicks in the noise level is no more than a large fan on high settings.  I’m not sure about how to use the dehumidify settings as that is not an issue for me but it might be something you all East of the Mississippi might want in a portable unit.

The real test will be this week and see how the unit handle low summer temps of a 75 F. degree day and a 97 F. degree day and how it works.  I think the unit will do okay!  I don’t expect an 8000 BTU A/C to cool 1200 square feet of home.  I just want to cool the central part of the home so the 5000 BTU window units to make sleeping possible in 100  F.+ heat.

Just so you know that fricking tube for the AC unit demands floor space and area.  I’ll try sticking it in a corner but I thing I will probably fail!  Honest to gosh if you install this unit you don’t need to fear air clearance as it makes it own.

 

New portable AC unit arrived!

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I have to say the little 8000 BTU Haier AC unit from newegg.com was very well packaged.  The unit is more bulky than heavy at 56 pounds.  The wheels/casters make the unit easy to move around. the fixture for exhaust/air intake did not work well with my large picture window but I have to admit it would work great for a smaller window that either slides vertically or horizontally.  A bit of thermal barrier will take care of any small gaps.  Over all I have to give Haier props for making an effective window intake/exhaust vent as well as supplying some window tape/insulation.  I did not have to take out my window screen to use this mount so that save a lot of work on my part.  My biggest problem was with using the collapsible tube and installing the plastic vents for window to the back of the A/C unit.  The tube is heavy duty but as soon as you applied pressure the tube would collapse.  You need to twist the plastic fixtures onto the tube and avoid kinks.  Easy fixes and more annoying rather than a design flaw by Haier.

I tried out the unit today but it was a relatively cool 82-85 degrees F.  This weekend it’s supposed to hit the mid 90’s F. which will make a much better test on how the A/C unit cools.  I will say that the whole hose seemed to keep a cooler temp.  and Mom and I did not need to kick up our window A/C units for a cool house today.

Things I like about this unit: Overall it has a good setup for installing a portable A/C unit in a window.   The fan function seems very good and the compressor seems responsive of kicking on the compressor or going to fan mode based on the set temp.  drops below the temp settings you choose.  It seems quiet on fan settings and even when the compressor kicks in the noise level is no more than a large fan on high settings.  I’m not sure about how to use the dehumidify settings as that is not an issue for me but it might be something you all East of the Mississippi might want in a portable unit.

The real test will be this week and see how the unit handle low summer temps of a 75 F. degree day and a 97 F. degree day and how it works.  I think the unit will do okay!  I don’t expect an 8000 BTU A/C to cool 1200 square feet of home.  I just want to cool the central part of the home so the 5000 BTU window units to make sleeping possible in 100  F.+ heat.

Just so you know that fricking tube for the AC unit demands floor space and area.  I’ll try sticking it in a corner but I thing I will probably fail!  Honest to gosh if you install this unit you don’t need to fear air clearance as it makes it own.

 

New Scissors and getting the dogs ready for summer

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I’ll admit I never thought about scissors as a tool.  I have to say having a several good sets of scissors has become very critical tool to have on hand around Casa de Chaos.  So today Mom and I bought a couple of sets of Fisker’s everyday /craft scissors via BOGO free sale and gosh they are wonderful to use!  Like a good sharp knife, sharp scissors makes your cutting jobs easier and faster.

I know that Fiskers is a quality mid-range brand and for specific applications they may not be perfect but when I can get them on sale they are great tools.  I bought  Fiskers Kitchen shears a year ago and love how I can cut herbs with them and the blades break apart for easy cleaning.

I’m using an older set of scissors to practice my sharpening skills.  I am using an oil stone and have put a good edge on the first part of the blade but I will need to take the scissors apart in order to get the cutting edge sharpen for the entire length of the blade.  I suppose what I’m trying to say is have good scissors on hand is a tool for my prepping.  Being able to sharpen scissors is a skill I am trying to add to my prepping skill set.

Brushing and cleaning up the dogs for summer.  I’m ashamed to say I did not keep up with the grooming of my dogs this spring when they are shedding like crazy.  Pekes under coat is almost like down and mats like crazy when not combed out and I dropped the ball on brushing the little critters out.  So how do I fix the problem?

  1. Get rid of the big mats of hair.  I’m cutting them out as much as possible (hence new scissors) without hurting the dogs.
  2. Using brushes and combs in short time frames of brushing that get the dogs back in the habit of being brushed regularly.
  3. Cutting the hair between pads and cutting dogs nails.  This is taking a bit more time to rebuild trust but Mom and I have had some some success.  I use a a nail cutter that is not spring loaded and resemble scissors.  Once I cut hair around the paw I simply cut back the extra nail that keeps the paw from resting flat on a solid surface.  This is easier for me compared to finding the quick and trying not to cut into it. If you cut in in to quick Witch Hazel is great for stopping the bleeding.
  4. Using treats to reward good behavior of your pets getting groomed.

I won’t say it is okay to drop the ball in caring for your pets, but I do understand how it can happen.   Start off slow and take care of the of the worst issues first even if the hair cuts look sub-optimal.  Then start a normal grooming schedule slowly so the pups don’t fear but like the attention,  and try and make it as positive as possible for the pet.

Jackson the terrier is very fearful of combs, brushes and scissors.  We are going to try using rags to get him use to the motions of grooming.  Thank goodness he has a short/wire haired coat so we have a bit of time to work on him.

The portable 8000 BTU AC unit is supposed to arrive on  Friday and the temps are supposed to hit the mid 90’s F. I’m not sure how to “vent” a portable AC unit or how to deal with the moisture with the unit being inside.  Gosh we are all going to learn new stuff!  Even adding another 8000 BTU portable AC unit the wattage/ electrical use is still lower than my “Central air” power usage.  But we shall see if the portable AC is worth the cost in electricity.

Last, but not least I think I can afford another Ryobi mister fan for the yard.  In a dry climate these misters are wonderful for both humans and critters.  I want to add some mulch and Mom has some offering sedum starts for the alley garden.  With the people that are ignoring weed growth in the garden I need more plants and more mulch to stop the spread of bad weeds.

New Scissors and getting the dogs ready for summer

I’ll admit I never thought about scissors as a tool.  I have to say having a several good sets of scissors has become very critical tool to have on hand around Casa de Chaos.  So today Mom and I bought a couple of sets of Fisker’s everyday /craft scissors via BOGO free sale and gosh they are wonderful to use!  Like a good sharp knife, sharp scissors makes your cutting jobs easier and faster.

I know that Fiskers is a quality mid-range brand and for specific applications they may not be perfect but when I can get them on sale they are great tools.  I bought  Fiskers Kitchen shears a year ago and love how I can cut herbs with them and the blades break apart for easy cleaning.

I’m using an older set of scissors to practice my sharpening skills.  I am using an oil stone and have put a good edge on the first part of the blade but I will need to take the scissors apart in order to get the cutting edge sharpen for the entire length of the blade.  I suppose what I’m trying to say is have good scissors on hand is a tool for my prepping.  Being able to sharpen scissors is a skill I am trying to add to my prepping skill set.

Brushing and cleaning up the dogs for summer.  I’m ashamed to say I did not keep up with the grooming of my dogs this spring when they are shedding like crazy.  Pekes under coat is almost like down and mats like crazy when not combed out and I dropped the ball on brushing the little critters out.  So how do I fix the problem?

  1. Get rid of the big mats of hair.  I’m cutting them out as much as possible (hence new scissors) without hurting the dogs.
  2. Using brushes and combs in short time frames of brushing that get the dogs back in the habit of being brushed regularly.
  3. Cutting the hair between pads and cutting dogs nails.  This is taking a bit more time to rebuild trust but Mom and I have had some some success.  I use a a nail cutter that is not spring loaded and resemble scissors.  Once I cut hair around the paw I simply cut back the extra nail that keeps the paw from resting flat on a solid surface.  This is easier for me compared to finding the quick and trying not to cut into it. If you cut in in to quick Witch Hazel is great for stopping the bleeding.
  4. Using treats to reward good behavior of your pets getting groomed.

I won’t say it is okay to drop the ball in caring for your pets, but I do understand how it can happen.   Start off slow and take care of the of the worst issues first even if the hair cuts look sub-optimal.  Then start a normal grooming schedule slowly so the pups don’t fear but like the attention,  and try and make it as positive as possible for the pet.

Jackson the terrier is very fearful of combs, brushes and scissors.  We are going to try using rags to get him use to the motions of grooming.  Thank goodness he has a short/wire haired coat so we have a bit of time to work on him.

The portable 8000 BTU AC unit is supposed to arrive on  Friday and the temps are supposed to hit the mid 90’s F. I’m not sure how to “vent” a portable AC unit or how to deal with the moisture with the unit being inside.  Gosh we are all going to learn new stuff!  Even adding another 8000 BTU portable AC unit the wattage/ electrical use is still lower than my “Central air” power usage.  But we shall see if the portable AC is worth the cost in electricity.

Last, but not least I think I can afford another Ryobi mister fan for the yard.  In a dry climate these misters are wonderful for both humans and critters.  I want to add some mulch and Mom has some offering sedum starts for the alley garden.  With the people that are ignoring weed growth in the garden I need more plants and more mulch to stop the spread of bad weeds.

AC window units installed

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The small 5000 BTU window units are installed once again and the wailing and gnashing of teeth was not excessive.  The window in Mom’s room is always a pain as it slides side to side rather than vertically.  So we have to remove the sliding section of window and then cover up a large gap above the AC unit so we don’t have either heat or bugs come in the house.  I used a bit more wood and some of the thermal barrier to close off more of the gaps around the AC unit and the window frame.  I think this year Mom and I did a much better job on eliminating all those small gaps compared to previous years.  This year I used cedar shims to help brace the bottom part of the AC unit in the window. This seems to be better for supporting the weight of the AC unit.

Mom and I installed my AC window unit in about half the time because my window slide moves vertically, so everything is much easier to install.  FYI I use bits of thermal barrier to cover the gaps and cracks around the AC unit and the windows.  This material seems to do an acceptable job for stopping bugs and hot air that might come into the house.   The last bonus of installing the AC units is using them really seems to help with allergies that happen in the early stages of summer.

The last part of the AC install is I ordered a portable 8000 BTU air conditioner for the living room.  This unit is on rollers and uses a tube out the window rather than being installed in the window so I’m not sure how it will all work but between the fans and the existing AC units we should be able to handle the summer heat this year.  Between adding the new roof , attic vents and how well the house is insulated this last AC unit will take the house from tolerable to extremely cool if we need it.  By using several small units we can choose what to cool in the house and when we cool.  A big factor in my thinking is it much easier to plug a couple of small AC units via a generator compared to powering a large central AC unit.   Remember heat can also kill, oldsters and the young are the most vulnerable to heat.  Even one cool room could make the difference in surviving/ thriving.  The most important thing to remember about survival is do everything you can do to not get dead!

Surprisingly,  I’m just slightly ahead of the power curve.  Usually I’m at least 3 steps behind the curve. Then I also tend to put myself in that position of playing catch up.   I was hoping to find some sweet corn starts at the local farm store but nothing was found but we got some lovely flowers and added some basil and another type of Rosemary that we hope to grow.  I have some seed for sweet corn so we will go with that for the beds.

Update on the rose beds I hacked and slashed.  Most of the roses are not only recovering but thriving!  Who’d a thunk it?  Improving  the soil, mulching to restrict weed growth could make such a difference?

Update on the mouse hunt.  Well we got several mice and the Sachets are having an effect.  Of course the mice have changed up what they are doing because of the sachets.  I do think the sachets are worth the money especially if you want to prevent a mouse infestation.  Making good shelving and have good containers that don’t give mice a place to breed or feed is next.  Remember Rodents are not your only prepper problem.  Insects is also a big deal.

I got lazy and did not follow proper prep procedure. Doing your preps correctly the first time same time, effort and money long term.  Prepping for the long term is my goal!

Don’t get me wrong getting a 3 week supply of the basics on hand is a huge accomplishment!  Honestly I think that is the biggest accomplishment based on myself prepping.  Three weeks is not difficult but it takes some effort and once you reach 3 weeks of prep adding another week for a month’s worth of prep seems simple.  Hell I got a month’s worth of preps then your mindset starts to change.  Or at least my mindset changed.

I have to stop myself as this is a new blog post about changing mindsets.

Everything in life is simple! It just the simple things are hard!

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Simple and Easy are not Synonyms.  They are very different words with very different definitions.  Building my compost walls is simple that does not mean it is easy.  Starting a garden is simple that does not mean it easy.  Using a wood fire stove is simple that does not mean it is easy.  Simple and easy are very different concepts. Building a raised garden bed is easy,  but building the the soil, the seeds to plants and how to water the bed can get complex quickly.  Simple and easy are not synonyms.

Well I never pay much attention to the SJW types when making my garden so I’m good.  For gosh sakes SJW do you have so much time on your hands to strike down the heretics?   Also how are you any different than any cultists?

The PTB’s do not want you self sufficient. The PTBs don’t want you having a wood stove, growing a garden or collecting rain water. Without you being dependent on the PTBs they have no purpose.  So grow a garden, make your own bread,   make a wood pile and go solar as much as you can with your income.  Every step you take to become independent is a strike against the PTBs.

I’m getting a bit peeved that the SJW don’t seem to understand White or Beige is a color!  I’m low on the economic food chain making $18 grand a year but I should support the SJW and their little “pet causes”?  Nope not going to happen here at Casa de Chaos.  I will grow Tomitillos and revel in the fact I grow Purple tomitillos!  OMG I’m a white person that want to can salsa grown from my own garden.   I’m not Italian and I make raviolis.  and I want to learn how to make Pirogis.  Not learning about food and other cultures are an anathema to the SJW or is “profit” the anathema?

So you person of color and over all schold please tell what us white people are allowed.   I’m sure we will read your comments and then we will….

Of course since you use facebook, computers  and the internet were invented by white people you will stop using them immediately.  Gosh we would not want any cultural appropriation.

I found construction solution to the compost bin

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The compost bin build is heavy duty  and the first wall weighs quite a lot.  So how do I finish up the build without making it so heavy I can’t move the bin in place?   Fence brackets!  These little fence brackets are cheap at .67 cent and look to be a great solution to not only the compost bin but the shelves I want to build in the basement for storage.  These little brackets have an open end so you could adjust shelves if needed and gosh with a cordless drill it is dead simple to build stuff  if all you need is a 90 degree square cut.  Another thing with these brackets you can take advantage of strength of the wood. Having the 4 inch section weight bearing  of a 2×4 is much stronger than using the 2 inch section.  A big bonus is if I have to move the bin or shelves I just unscrew the boards from the brackets and adjust.

A thing to think about if you are a prepper is what do you have on hand to build some basic construction?  Some people love using nails and are good with using nails.  I scare nails in at best and if I hit a nail square it is a minor miracle.  Driving screws is easy for me and I have a lot of backup systems in place to deal with using screws in building.  Removing a screw is usually easy and takes very little physical effort.  Removing nails takes a lot more physical effort. I love the self drilling screws and try to add a pound when I have an extra $5.00 available for prepping.  Having a a selection of screws for jobs around the house has made my life easier and much more conducive to getting prepared.

Using Tech to make your preps better….  I have seen a small LED under cabinet light it is Battery powered and rechargeable but it uses a USB powered outlet.  This is an awesome setup for a prepper as many of the small fold able solar panels are USB only.  The battery packs are also only USB outlets only.  You can charge a good LED light bar batteries via an outlet or via a small solar panel.  Gosh if you have good/ adequate  lights via solar that is less for your generator has to power.  You won’t have all the power you want if the SHTF but every little bit of energy you can get the most out of is a good thing.  I’m no Environmentalist but I think the more you can get off the Grid and are not dependent on the grid is a good thing.

Mouse update:  I think we are disrupting the mice but are following through on the first step is a bit lacking.  Eliminating all the food sources is a priority, adding new food safe shelves is also a priority.    Follow up on cleaning with bleach and eliminating the mice hiddey holes.  I think the balsam oil sachets have disrupted the mice but that is not to say it has eliminated the mouse problem.   I think the Balsam oil sachets are a good preventive solution and a less than perfect driving  mice out  of the basement solution.  What has worked is washing down wall with a mild bleach solution and a a lot of sticky traps in the house and enclosed metal traps in the chicken house.

I did not have a problem with mice until this winter.  If you have exposed food sources  and a warm house you will have a vermin problem.   That problem will probably grow worse if the SHTF and garbage piles up.  Eliminate the bugs and vermin now!  Stock up on materials that work for you.

I finally figured out how to finish the compost bin and a use for the leftover Cedar boards.

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I was dreading putting the compost pile together because it was going to be heavy to put in place!  Solution! add deck (stringers) I think that is  metal brackets are called (used on roof rafters)  on the 4×4 posts and the 2×4 can be dropped in those brackets easily.  All I have to deal with are simple 90 degree cuts and I believe the compost pile build will be much more robust and stronger long term.  There is nothing wrong with using pallets for a compost bin especially if you build it properly.  I did not have those carpentry skills, tools or know how to to use those skills or tools properly. I am getting a bit better at  trying to do things properly the second or third try of building.

I’m learning, but I do tend to be a trial and error person.  Usually I tend to screw up by the numbers and then I find the how to build something. I also tend to be a person that needs a bit of time to figure out stuff before the “lightbulb” goes off in my brain.  Trust me, I screw up and half-ass a lot of projects and learn what does not work before I get a clue about doing it correctly the 1st or 2nd time. I do not recommend this system but it sort of works for me.  One thing I never do is use nails.  I don’t hammer in nails, I scare nails into boards at best.  I much prefer using screws as I often screw up building stuff.  Using a drill to remove a poorly placed screw is much easier than removing a poorly place nail.

Now on to the boardwalk garden path.  How do I use the Cedar boards left overs I bought for the compost bin?  What about building a garden board walk? My handicap may make me less mobile and I still will want access to my garden, so why not build a boardwalk?  Plus it will help keep my little digger dogs out of the garden.  At least reduce the doggies digging area in the garden.  This just an idea I’m kicking around in my noggin.

Last but not least I ‘m getting the pups brushed, combed and cleaned up.   I’m sorry to say I sort of ignored the doggies and they paid the price. I am brushing out the pekes and the under cut is brutal but the pups are getting mostly cleared of matted hair.  One thing nice about Jackson the terrier is his coat is easy to deal with, now the guy is terrified of scissors.  My trimming the Pekes was ugly but all of the pups got a good brush/comb out.  A mediocre trim of mats and relieved of extra fur for summer.

Keeping your self and critters cool in Summer you need to get the Ryobi mister fan!  About $80.00 but it works great in 100 Degree F. days.  Plus the 18 volt battery works with all Ryobi tools. This a great cooling system in summer.  If you live in a hot summer climate you need this little battery powered mister/ fan.

I dropped off extra starts and talked weed control with the neighbors

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One of the worst things in the alley way beds is weed control.  The soil is really bad for most plants other than weeds and the weeds tend to be very unpleasant, full of pointy spikes and leaves.  A few years ago I tried using weed killer and I not only killed the weeds I killed the soil and that only invited in more weeds.  So for the last 2 years I have used Black Walnut leaves as a “killer mulch” in the worst areas.  Oh I still have some weeds but the weeds are the broadleaf type and not all pointy and annoying like puncture vine/goatheads.

I have added some wood mulch and two plants that seem to grow great in poor soil and with little water.  Sunchokes have done great and while they can spread they grow/spread slowly.  I planted Sunchokes three years ago and all the plant has done is got a bit thicker and bushy.  The roots/Rhizomes are still localized and not taking over the alley way area.  Low growing sedums planted and add a bit of wood mulch to retain water.  I planted sedum for the first time last year and half of the plants came back this year.  Not to bad for a plant that is subject to getting driven over and growing in poor soil with very little water other than rain.

The alley way beds are a work in progress of eliminating the nastiest weeds first!  That includes adding mulch and plant that I want that grow in poor soil conditions.  I’m also adding wood mulch to start to help with both water retention and as a sort of ground cover that prevents some if not all weeds.  While this is not a perfect system I have had very few goat heads or cheat grass to deal with in my my beds despite the fact some of my neighbors have very thick “nasty” weeds.  The best way to stop weeds is to improve the soil and add plants that you want that don’t give weeds a place to grow.

We are trying out some Balsam oil sachets with out mouse infestation of the basement.  While still early days it seems that the mice do not like the Balsam oil Sachets and the mice don’t always go outside to to escape the odor.  The mice do seem to be concentrated in my food storage area and while I “dropped the ball” on some of my food storage protocols, but most of my long term  food storage is safe from mice.

Prepper porn often consists of shelving units and there is a reason for that!   The SHTF has not happened but I have a darn annoying mouse problem.  Gosh can you imagine how much worse it could be if trash is not removed for a few months?  Work on fixing your problems now when you can access to stores or even “vermin control” you can call in if needed.

Last but not least,  learn from others mistakes especially mine own.  Don’t beat yourself up if you let a few item slide.  We are all learning stuff and we all make mistakes.   At this time we are afforded time to live and learn.

Starter plants and the marigold flat are in the ground

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I think  SW Idaho is in the new 5A Zone that includes Arkansas.  That being said you  really need to grow celery.  I have had good luck growing “Utah High” via starter plants and seed.  Celery is easy to grow and I think it should be in every garden.  The plants grown in “peat pots” are in the garden but we still feel things may not work out but are willing to give the plants a chance.  We re-potted all plants from the small “peat pots”  and will hand out to neighbors if the plants survive.

The little garden fence was a no go and would not keep out small peke that wants to dig in dirt.  It is an ugly fence but somewhat effective and cheap.  You might see the new marigolds planted around the raised beds.



Mom says we have a bit of space for other plants but I want to see how the plants fill in the garden over the summer.  I placed the bird bath out in the garden as I noticed the little birds taking dust baths.

I sprayed the outside of the house for insects and the product is supposed to be residual for at least 3-6 months. WE have bugs and I dropped the “ball” being proactive on dealing with vermin.  Prevention cost a lot less but you have to deal with what life hands you even if you “Screwed the pooch”.

Plan of attack for the vermin.  Spray the insect killer inside the house where bugs may gather and breed.  Sort of the same way I deal with the mice.  New shelving units built or bought that can be put on casters and easy to move.  Place all food in at least heavy  duty buckets or bins.

I screwed up by having a food source accessible.  Now I’m paying the price of trying to eliminate both bugs and rodents.  Learn from my mistakes and screw up  now.  Golly we all screw up while learning new stuff and that is a good thing in the long term.  Of course it does tend to cost us a bit short term.

Okay a bit of a re- hash but I put up a fence that seems to stop my dogs digging up plants.  I sprayed a insecticide barrier around the house.  I finished planting my starter plants in the big garden bed.  Not a bad bit of work for a Saturday.

Mouse hunt, plants and the 1st wall built for the new compost pile

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In the last couple of weeks of our mouse hunt we have caught over 40 mice in the chicken house and in the house.  For traps we are using box traps and sticky traps because we have critters and pets.  Snap traps will injure any animal and while sticky traps can get the dogs the traps can bet cut away with some scissors.   I’m trying out a rodent repellent in the basement that smells of balsam fir oil.  I added 6 bags of this “repellent” in hope that it will start driving the mice out of the basement.  Next week I will purchase the wood and start building shelving units in the basement.  My plan is to clean up all the mouse droppings,  Bleach and sanitize the walls to stop the mouse trails and make it safe from those mouse carried diseases and have all food items stored in long term containers that are vermin proof.  The last requirement of the shelving is it will accommodate traps or spraying for bugs long term.   While I may have slacked off  the last 6 months on storage.  My long-term food supply is very safe in 55 gallon metal drums.

Plants for the garden.

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As you can see I have a flat of Marigolds and several starer plants for the garden.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As you can see the pepper plants between the cages took quite a beating and look a bit sad.   I have starts to replace the peppers and my deep 4 ft.x 4ft raised bed is for any  plants that have no planned spot.  You can see the Black garden fence.  Well it has not worked for stopping the small digger dogs.  What has worked is those fold flat tomato cages hooked to the chain linked fence and  covers the small beds.

First wall of the new compost pile wall is built.   My carpentry skills are rudimentary at best, but as I build stuff I learn more about carpentry and how to make what I want in my mind happen in reality.  This the first wall of my compost pile and I can hide my screw ups against the chicken area. I learned a lot just putting together this first wall.  Overall I think this new compost bin idea will work long term and I’m also learning about how to work with different types of lumber and how to use those product around the yard.


The image on the left is the new wall of the compost pile.  The image on right is the my pathetic attempt of making a compost bin out of pallets that was less than successful.  There is nothing wrong with screwing up by the numbers if it does not cost you.  I learned the wrong way to use pallets to make a cheap compost pile.  Trust me I went very cheap and I did not know how to make anything plus I lacked the proper tools to make pallets work.   There is nothing wrong with using pallets to build a compost pile.  I just gave a pic of my screwed up compost pile to show that without knowledge and skills, half-assing stuff will probably end up costing you more money time and energy is the likely outcome.  I don’t have a lot of “extra” money to invest in stuff.  I really don’t have a lot of personal energy/strength to invest in screwing up.  So getting  stuff right or at least learning how to get stuff built right is critical.

I’m still not sure on how the compost pile will turn out,  though I have enough lumber to build a 2 bin system.  At this time the built wall will be on left side as well. I will have a divider section and a pressure treated built back wall.  I’m spending some dollars to build “my” compost system. Can you do a compost system cheaper?  Of course you can build one of those.  I’m no longer worried about cheap I’m worried about a working system for me.  I can afford to look beyond cheap and look at making stuff easy.

Plants got frost nipped and today we got hail

My peppers got frost nipped and just for extra fun, they got pummeled by hail today.  I added some protection after the storm started but I think the peppers are probably toast. The weathermen are for casting possible snow here in the valley.  Not unheard of too me but Spring time in Idaho is a bit more “eclectic” than I prefer.   We are good here at Casa de Chaos as we are late planting many “starter plants”.  The cabbages and cole crops survived the cold/hail.  I also planted the plants in a “protected” place in the front yard.  Just a small garden planting set back at this time.  Springtime in Idaho!

I bought the lumber for the new compost pile.  I’m using pressure treated 4×4 posts at the corners.  2×4 pressure treated boards to tie the pile together and cedar wood fencing to cover/contain the compost.  I’ll have to layout and tweak the plan over the next week.  I’m not just trying to make my garden “pretty”.  Every element must have a use to make the garden better in the long run.

I have most of the materials for building a compost mound/heap.  I want it to be semi-attractive as well as a good compost pile that is somewhat easy to work. Good construction makes life easier in the long run.

I really dropped the ball on my basement storage.  The mice are berserk and all of it is because I did not store foods properly in containers.  So Mom and I are trying out a few different items to get rid of mice and I’m looking to build  proper shelves to fight the vermin problem.  So we will see how it works out.  I’m not getting all “butt hurt” just because I “screwed the pooch” this time.  prepping and getting self-sufficient is a journey and not about one screw up.

A little late on the 3 sisters and pics.

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I’m still sort of tweaking the 3 sisters garden beds.  I know what does not work from last year’s experiment. These beds are an adjustment and not necessarily the end result for the 3 sisters experiment. Via most web sites the corn and beans are  suggested to have a mound of dirt above the squash plants. I can test this out on my beds though they are only 3 ft. x 3 ft. wide.  I think adding a raised mound for the corn and beans is doable on a bed and then try a regular raised bed garden for the other beds.  Growing plants has so many variables that there are no hard and fast rules.  Each gardener must try out how thing work in the yard and garden.  If it is stupid and it works it ain’t stupid!

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Cedar boxes for the 3 sisters garden.

This is a bit of tweaking as corn, beans and squash did not do as well as I wanted in the big garden bed.   My garden got overgrown and was not healthy so by separating the plants I hope to create a better garden.  Those 3 beds cost about $80.00 in materials and I can afford that now.  But I started out using reclaimed materials and going “cheap” to start a garden.  Start small if you that is all you can do.  Often the hardest thing to do is just start.

The front yard edible beds.  I have a bit of work to do but over all the beds are looking darn good.

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It may not look like much but I have lettuce, spinach and brussel sprouts  growing.

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I thought I got of the happy little cabbages in the front yard beds,  but no luck finding them to post.

Simple and easy are not the same thing.  Almost every thing life is simple, that does not mean it is easy.  I’m not a homesteader and with my physical limitations I can not be one.  But that does not mean I can’t try and do stuff around the house.

Gosh I have learned so much from making basic raised beds to chopping up my own kindling.  We got slammed this winter so I’m prepping for a hard winter.   The worst that can happen is I’m ready for a hard winter.  The best that can happen is I’m very ready for a hard winter.

A little late on the 3 sisters and pics.

I’m still sort of tweaking the 3 sisters garden beds.  I know what does not work from last year’s experiment. These beds are an adjustment and not necessarily the end result for the 3 sisters experiment. Via most web sites the corn and beans are  suggested to have a mound of dirt above the squash plants. I can test this out on my beds though they are only 3 ft. x 3 ft. wide.  I think adding a raised mound for the corn and beans is doable on a bed and then try a regular raised bed garden for the other beds.  Growing plants has so many variables that there are no hard and fast rules.  Each gardener must try out how thing work in the yard and garden.  If it is stupid and it works it ain’t stupid!

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Cedar boxes for the 3 sisters garden.

This is a bit of tweaking as corn, beans and squash did not do as well as I wanted in the big garden bed.   My garden got overgrown and was not healthy so by separating the plants I hope to create a better garden.  Those 3 beds cost about $80.00 in materials and I can afford that now.  But I started out using reclaimed materials and going “cheap” to start a garden.  Start small if you that is all you can do.  Often the hardest thing to do is just start.

The front yard edible beds.  I have a bit of work to do but over all the beds are looking darn good.

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It may not look like much but I have lettuce, spinach and brussel sprouts  growing.

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I thought I got of the happy little cabbages in the front yard beds,  but no luck finding them to post.

Simple and easy are not the same thing.  Almost every thing life is simple, that does not mean it is easy.  I’m not a homesteader and with my physical limitations I can not be one.  But that does not mean I can’t try and do stuff around the house.

Gosh I have learned so much from making basic raised beds to chopping up my own kindling.  We got slammed this winter so I’m prepping for a hard winter.   The worst that can happen is I’m ready for a hard winter.  The best that can happen is I’m very ready for a hard winter.

Ugh morning glory. 3 Sisters beds are done!

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I got most of my chores done today.  The big bed got weeded and a quick roto-till to loosen the soil for planting.  Mom got the actual plants in the garden,  Four sweet peppers, two types of egg plant and two types of cukes.  Mom’s tall peppers she started back in March wilted a bit in the heat and transplant shock.  Mom gave the peppers a good drink of water and we added the canvas tarps to keep off the direct sun and the peppers perked up after an hour or two.  These light weight canvas painter tarps are great for protecting plants from a light frost or the heat of the sun, relatively inexpensive and great multi-taskers.  SW Idaho has cooler weather coming in this weekend so we are going to keep “hardening” the melons, tomatoes and some of the smaller plants and plant on Monday.

I had a bit more work than I anticipated in the 3 sisters raised beds.  Morning glory was bad even with the layers of mulch I added last fall. I used a garden rake to grab the weeds and pull aside the mulch. I dug up as much of the weeds as possible but these beds will need to be monitored and weeded often this year.  I have to say the soil was looking much better after adding the wood mulch for the last two years.  Not perfect so I added some garden soil and compost to augment the soil I tilled up for the raised beds.  Using both my dirt and augmenting with bought garden soil seems to make make darn good vegetable garden soil.  I don’t block off my raised garden beds from the ground because after one or two years I have not seen much difference in weed growth.  I do see a big difference in veggie production when I include my dirt in the garden soil mix.  I’m feeling positive the 3 ft. x 3 ft. garden bed is going to be easy to work with as far as weeding the beds are concerned. Especially since I left plenty of room for my garden cart and to walk around the beds. I have learned it is a lot easier to weed and work many small garden beds compared to caring for one large bed.    Once I pull the mulch into place between the 3 sisters bed and do some cleanup I will post up some pics.

My back yard grass patch is still a bit spotty but where the grass is growing it has been growing great!  Last year I laid out sod and it did okay but I think my soil prep was not great and the type of grass did not do well with a sun and shade mix.  To correct the problem I’m going with a sun and shade mix that is drought tolerant and made for the local area. I’m adding compost and reseeding the grass this spring to try and fill in the patchy areas.  I have reduced the part of my backyard that is dedicated to lawn because a good lawn takes a lot of work and resources but I also want some lawn around as it is cool in the summer and my little dogs love rolling around and playing in the grass.

I’m lucky, I have no CC&Rs where I live so I can have mulch pathways, a front yard garden with edibles.  I can experiment with the alley way beds and learn how to kill out weeds naturally, without using roundup that kills everything including the soil.  I have had better luck killing weeds by using mulch and augmenting the soil rather than resorting to “Chemical” warfare” against Mama nature.  I’m not sure it is actually slower as last summer Mom and I dug up “goat heads” /puncture vine and I added wood ash, a killer mulch made of walnut leaves and a layer of wood mulch.  For plants I have added Sunchokes and a few sedum plants to provide ground cover.  Mom cleaned up the weeds, some thistle, “Cheat” grass and some Fox tails among others but NO! Goat heads at all were dug up.  Not a bad result in just one growing season.

Mom weeded the Alley and Mouse problems

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Mom got out this weekend and got the alley way weeds pulled up around the sunchokes and the sedum plants.  That was a huge job even though she says she did not do all that much work.  I have been working on the alley way  trying to improve the soil and kill out the weeds in the last year by using a killing mulch of walnut leaves and adding wood ash from the wood stove and wood mulch. We have broad leaf weeds but I have yet to find a goat head/puncture vine in the area!  I was told you had to use a powerful weed killer on goatheads but just improving the soil a little bit and adding in some good ground cover plants seems to have eliminated that nasty weed in less than a year.  This week I will be adding so more wood mulch for broad leaf weed control and I will  add a few more sedum plants as ground cover to continue choking out all those weeds.  This is not the fastest method for killing weeds but it is very effective, cheap and you don’t kill your soil or the other plants you want to keep growing.

Last winter was tough and we had an influx of mice.  Having the chickens here sort of attracted the mice and with the harsh winter they came in the house.  Once the mice are in your house you have to catch them or  call in an Exterminator.  We are going try and  get rid of mice ourselves.  Mom got half the kitchen cupboards cleaned up with a bleach mixture and we are laying out a lot of sticky traps in the house.  More traps means you can catch more mice and cleaning up with bleach mix seems to disrupt the scent trails mice lay down.   Putting all food products in heavy plastic, glass or metal containers helps eliminate food sources for the mice.  Getting your prep up on shelves, organized and rotated will also help you keep the rodents under control as you will notice the problem quickly and can be proactive with your anti-vermin measures.  I dropped the ball on this part of my preps.  Building some good shelves in my prep area rather than just making due is a high priority this summer.  My carpentry skills are still in the beginner stage but I now feel confident I can build some basic items with out screwing up to badly and wasting lumber.

Last but not least I think you should store some construction materials if possible. You should have a good set up of basic tools and practice building some basic item around the house.  Battery powered tools from a basic drills, saws and more are relatively inexpensive and give you many more options for you to Do It Yourself.  Youtube has tons of instructional vids.  Home Depot and Lowes have classes for basic DIY classes you can take for free.  I have taken a few of the classes and for a couple of hours of time investment you can get a big payoff in knowledge.  The skills an knowledge you acquire can never be taken from you and no matter if you are a prepper or not, having those basic tools and the skill to use them will save you money after your initial investment.

Finished up the wood rack

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It is a very basic wood rack/rick.  It consists of four pressure treated 2x4s and one pressure treated 4×4 cut to 18 inches that forms the base that keeps the wood off the concrete and hopefully above any water, ice and snow in winter.  Two of the bottom 2x4s make the base and then the up rights are cut to 4 foot length. Once the rack is filled you have what I have read is a “face” cord of cut fire wood.  A true cord of wood is 4 ft. high, 4 ft. deep and 8 feet long. So if you are buying fire wood by the Cord make sure you know the difference in the measurements.  These racks are very simple to put together with just a few 3 inch deck screws and my total cost per rack is about $30.00 total.  I get the pressure treated 2×4 for about $5.50 each, the pressure treated 4×4 costs just under $10.00 for an 8 ft. board that I get 5ft length for other projects like my raised beds and the deck screws  I buy a pound or so and use them for other projects. Add a tarp and you have your covered fire wood rack.  I space the rack at 18 inches as that is the length of wood my wood stove takes so if a chunk of wood extends past the edge of the rack I know I need to cut that chunk of wood down to size.

I prefer building my racks rather than using a Metal/store bought framing because of cost and even the metal corner post/framing add a lot of cost at $20.00 a set.  Using this system you can add more cross braces or even top it off with a “roof” and still save money.  I’m using tarps right now as I need to tear down and replace the cover over the wood pile area.  This last winter was tough as we got a lot of snow, rain and minor flooding and my wood got wet which made starting a fire problematical at best and darn near impossible at worst.  So getting prepared ahead of time on firewood storage this summer is a high priority! I would also recommend you get a mix of woods like a fast, hot burning pine or fir along with a long burning hardwood.  Just a suggestion if you can get a mix of woods.

I got all of the 4x4s cut to size for the raised garden beds and finally got both sides of the cedar boards treated.  The weather has been damp this weekend so the drying process was delayed.  Now all I have to do is build the beds, rake back the mulch, dig up the weeds, roto-till the dirt, add the soil and mix it all up.  A bit of work but SW Idaho has some sunny days next week so I can space out the process over several days.  After I start getting the plants in the ground I can add the new drip/soaker hose watering system and use some straw to mulch around the plants.  One of my biggest mistakes last year was planting to close and not having a good watering system set up. Of course planting during the hottest week in June  in 100+ degree weather was not exactly a sign of great intelligence.

Overall I’m on schedule this year for the garden and the wood pile. Of course Murphy’s law will make it’s presence known, but so far I’m on schedule and have about of week of time to play with for that demon Murphy.

Murphy’s Law “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong at least convenient moment.”

 

 

Yard and Garden updates

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Cedar Boards for the raised 3 sisters garden.

I am working on raised beds for the 3 Sisters Garden of Corn, Beans and Squash.  Last year I put the sisters in my large garden bed and they did not do very well as I think they received to much water when I was watering the other plants.  This year the sister’s beds are going to be completely separate and have three different 3 ft. x 3 ft raised beds on the south side of the house.  My hope is the corn will cast a bit of shade as some the stalks can grow 12 feet tall and the plants will get only the water they need and not get over watered.   I should have realized different plants need different amounts of water!

If you are curious this is the new garden …backyard layout

I have added two 2 ft. x 4 ft. beds for broccoli and cauliflower with a couple of bunches of celery in each bed. Celery is one of those plants that seems to be a good companion to almost every plant. Plus, home grown celery is to store bought celery that home grown tomatoes is to a store bought tomato.  Celery in the garden is easy to use as you just cut off what you need and at the end of the season you cut off all the stalks, give them a quick blanch and then dehydrate them for all those dishes in the fall.

I put all of the brussel sprouts, cabbages and most of the leaf lettuce in the front yard edible beds.  I planted a lot of lettuce this year as the prices have really gone up a lot and I like having lots of green salads and sandwiches for quick and light lunches in the summer.  Going with earlier plantings of lettuce in several different  beds I hope to avoid the lettuce “bolting” in hot weather.

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Newly mulched beds

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Tulips

In the front yard we added a lot of flowers and cleaned up the front yard garden beds.  I got some of the old dead roses dug out and added some new roses.  The biggest of my  problems with my Rose beds was I had no idea what I was doing when I moved into the house and the roses were too close and became overgrown because of neglect.  As you can see in the top pic I have cut back the old roses that are still somewhat healthy, dug out the dead roses and while it is bit tough to see I added new roses with plenty of space between them to grow.  It does not look all that impressive so far but the new roses are  starting to put on new growth and  the mulch is has made a big dent stopping the weed growth. Mom was also a huge help on cutting back the grape vines that got very over grown  when not cut back each year.

Last but not least the Alley way beds now seem to be cleared of puncture vines though I still have some broad leaf weeds and a bit of “cheatgrass” to eliminate.  Using the black walnut leaves as a killer much has worked out great and adding the wood ash from the fire place, seems? to be helping the poor clay/alkali soil in the alley.  My little sedum plant from last year have come back and look darn good once you find them in the taller weeds.  The sunchokes are filling and while it may not look all that impressive I’m darn pleased with the progress made on those beds.  Adding more mulch, soil amendments and good plants like the sedum and sunchokes should start choking out the unwanted weeds.

I’m back!

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It has been a bit difficult the last 12 months but I am trying.  Lots of stuff to catch up with all of you.  I am not dead nor have I given up I just got lazy and my juggling skills were just a bit lacking for life and posting.   Sorry, I really dropped the ball and I don’t think ignoring my Blog was the best answer!  If we are lucky, we live and learn.  Just some quick updates .  Mom is still living with me as housing prices are a tad high and she is waiting for “DAD” to get her off the Mortgage contract.  Yeah it’s a long story but this is a quick update so “No Drama”  is allowed.

The garden is looking awesome and I managed to start plants this year.  Celery seeds are small rascals and you should be careful how you start them.  Mom says we will need tweezers just to separate the plants.  Never let a person with poor tactile skills start your pots for celery or any other small seeds!   Over all Mom and I are doing darn good.  Mom is enrolled in a Master gardeners class and I added a few more raised beds.  I started a 3 sisters garden last year and it failed.  This year I have new beds in the making for the 3 sisters garden.  I’m also trying out a new drip irrigation system.  Early days on trying a new system but the theory looks sound. We got a new dog and he is young and a terrier.  He has been great as he makes Mom giggle with his antics.

I added 2 new raised beds in the backyard and went hardcore adding edible beds in the front yard beds.  Early days for the “Cole” crops but so far so good!  Pics of the dog and pics of the garden.

Mom calls him Jackson and he is devoted to her.  He is a very sweet little terrier and not yappy.

Jackson the terrier.

I’m building new firewood racks and loading up on fire wood.  This last winter was brutal.  So I’m looking at buying a couple of garbage cans and filling the with sand and salt for next winter.   I thought I was prepared for winter I was wrong!

 

Sort of a short post to say I am back but I should have more3 pics and plans for what I am trying to do in the future.

 

10 Thoughts on Buildings and Shelters…the Dollars and Cents of Starting a Small Farm

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This article was originally published by Jamie on Walkinginhighcotton.net

Today we’re back with another piece in our series of the Dollars and Cents of Starting a Small Farm. This series is meant to give you the tools to think through all the decision-making that goes with starting a small farm, along with some encouragement and creative but realistic tips and ideas for making it affordable.

Buildings and Shelters–or building shelters as we like to do around here!–are a huge part of having livestock on a small farm or homestead. As I’ll talk about later in this post–it’s also one of the more controversial topics. (Who knew?!)

One of our common mantras around here for animal health is “clean and dry, clean and dry.” Keeping your animals clean (meaning no mud!) and dry is at least 60% of the health battle. Mud is a serious enemy on the natural (or trying to be natural!) farmstead. Wet ground is the growing medium for all kinds of bacteria and parasites and being coated in mud lowers body temperatures and keeps an animal’s coat from doing its normal job of warming and shedding weather.

It’s important to realize that “dry” doesn’t necessarily mean that the animal is dry–and this is where we start to get into the controversy!

We believe that God gave a cow/sheep/chicken everything they need to know to be a cow/sheep/chicken. And part of that knowledge is knowing to “come in out of the rain” if they need to. Where a lot of folks start to disagree when it comes to sheltering animals is the “if they need to” part. We believe in doing everything we can to keep the ground dry, and avoiding mud when possible–we tend to use a deep bedding method to get the animals out of the “soup” that becomes common in winter. And we believe in providing wind-breaks and cover for bad precipitation. We don’t believe that you have to force the animals to use it! We don’t “lock” animals in the barn unless we have a sick animal or a very young animal with special needs. Our shelters are all run-in environments and the animals choose whether they need to be in or not.

Just for the record, this drives a lot of folks NUTS. They believe that our animals are out in the weather because we don’t provide enough shelter for them. They can’t conceive of the idea that our cows are bred for hot, humid weather and like 90-100 degree days. And they can’t fathom that our sheep are all wearing huge natural wool coats and don’t mind being in the snow or light to moderate rain.

I don’t say this to make you agree with me, I say it so that you know what perspective we’re working from. As I mentioned in my first post, you always want to be sure that you’re comparing apples to apples. If you believe your sheep are too dumb to use the barn without help (I wouldn’t surprise me if there were a few!) that’s totally your call as the farmer! We also occasionally use weather-forced enclosure for situations like hurricane predictions, etc. If you regularly get blizzards, maybe you need to consider more confinement.

Our sheep don’t mind the snow. It just stacks up on their backs like they’re walking snow piles.

 

Another concern we hear raised often is how much shelter is enough? 2-sides? 3-sides? 4-sides, fully enclosed? We believe that over-sheltering reduces your animals overall weather-hardiness and increases dependence on sheltering, and increases opportunities for shelter-based health issues like pneumonia, respiratory infections from dust and mold, and physical injuries from crowding. We believe the best option is to choose animals that are well-adapted to your location, give them as much fresh-air and sunshine as possible, and a place to get out of the mud, wind, and wet, when needed. Most of our shelters are 3-side run-in style or 2-side run-thru design. This lets the animals get in and out as needed, allows maximum air flow while preventing drafts, and blocks wind, rain, sleet, etc. These are also lighter shelters, so they are more easily portable for our rotational system.

Even our red barn there is portable–although not easily. This is our sturdiest shelter for really bad weather.

Here’s 10 questions to ask yourself before you think about investing in any buildings or shelters…

1. What is the purpose?!

Is it going to be an animal shelter? Hay and feed storage? Tools and equipment? Will it be multi-purpose? We didn’t always set out thinking multi-purpose at first, but a few years in we realized that we’ve re-purposed every shelter, building, lean-to, carport, and shed on our property as least once. Now we always think–how many ways can we use this in the future?

2. Does it need to be mobile?

Remember, keep the long-term in view. We try to make everything possible mobile–that keeps the whole farmstead flexible if our needs or our interests change. What if our kiddos don’t want to do chickens but we invested in a 1/4 acre permanent coop and yard? Mobile also means it has to be lighter–and sturdier! How are you going to haul it around? By hand? By tractor? By lawn mower or 4-wheeler…It’s quite a balance. {smile} Mr. Fix-It loves this part of farming. The creative design and build part. Oh–and here’s a mistake we’ve made (ok, I admit it, more than once!)–if you’re going to move it around, you have to build it so it fits through all your gates!!

3. What else needs to be stored?

This has been a serious frustration for me! Buildings on the farm are not just about the livestock! The more you farm, the more stuff you have (especially if you’re trying to be thrifty and save and reuse everything!) and then suddenly the more stuff you need to store. There are NEVER enough storage buildings and something is always out in the weather that really shouldn’t be. Hay and feed. Equipment–tractors, mowers, trailers, disc, seed spreader, rototillers, garden tools, 4-wheeler…all need to be stored–preferably under cover!–to increase their useful lifespan. Mechanical tools–welder, air compressor, tool boxes, screws and nails, etc. Then you have fencing supplies, chutes and pens, medical supplies, feed troughs, buckets, scoops, carrying crates, seeds and fertilizers, hoses…the list of supplies is just never-ending–and it all has to go somewhere!

4. Are you sure it should go there?

If you are putting something permanent up, are you absolutely, positively, never-a-doubt-in-your-mind, dead-set that it should go there? Our garage and the lean-to off the side of the garage were pretty much set. Those were based on our house and driveway location. That’s where they were going to be. The end. Everything else, including gates and fence-lines, has been debated ad-nauseum and sometimes we still can’t decide. Everything else has been moved around, and probably will be even more in the future. If there’s any way to try a temporary solution for a year or two first, I would suggest it.

5. Are you following your own pattern?

This sort of follows #4…when in doubt, wait it out. Sometimes our “vision” of perfection doesn’t match our real-life farm. We’ve wanted to put up an equipment pole shed for years now. Money is the reason we waited, but I’m glad we did. Why? Because by putting it off a few years, we finally saw our own pattern and the building would have been on the wrong side of the farm! {smile} We kept talking about using part of the back field (see the red barn picture up there) behind the garage for equipment storage–but in actuality, we store our equipment on “equipment row” at the back of our big field and we use the garage spot for animal handling, lambing, sick pens, and lamb harvest. Now we’re talking about just putting up the shed over our existing “row.” If your sheep are always in the pasture, do you really need a barn by the house?

Here’s our standard field shelters for the sheep. They move from field to field as needed.

 

6. Is this practical?

Look, all farmers love big, old, musty, two-story barns. It’s part of the homesteading heart! But usually they’re just not practical–from a money or a design standpoint. If you’re lucky enough to have one I’m sure you’re finding ways to use it. But if you don’t, there’s probably a lot of other, more practical solutions to your storage needs. On a small farm or homestead, practical usually means the most use for the least money. As everything else, this means over the long-term. Sometimes more up-front costs to get the most use, is the least money in the long-run. And don’t forget to think about maintenance when you’re thinking about cost!

We use metal “hoop” shelters the most right now. They need almost no maintenance and last a really long time. We’re also able to find the pieces used at auctions (our sheep huts are made from “useless” pieces of a bigger structure!) because they last long enough to be resold. They’re big enough for our sheep, but small enough to be moved around easily with the tractor. They keep off the wind, rain, and snow and provide shade. And they can be bedded with straw to keep the animals off the wet ground and provide warmth. The open ends mean there’s no drafts, plenty of ventilation, and easy exits if someone spooks. Our red barn was our biggest building investment other than our garage, and it’s been worth it to have that sturdy shelter and small field to use during hurricane season. But it needs to be painted as we speak–again.

7. Can it be expanded?

Most farms grow. Once you’re in, you’re hooked! {smile} When you’re thinking about buildings and shelters, a lot of times you have to think small because of your budget. But if you invest wisely, it will be easy to grow later. Our huts could be bolted together, we could add more as we get more animals, or take one out of use and store it if we have fewer animals. On permanent structures you can add lean-tos. Our garage has one on the left, and we could add one off the right or the back if we wanted too. If you put a building right up against a fence, ditch, etc. then you’ve limited your expansion options.

8. Am I reinventing the wheel here?

To be thrifty, sometimes it’s best just to copy someone that’s already been there, done that. Honestly, we don’t do that very often because Mr. Fix-It enjoys the creative part–and that usually works for us because he’s very good at it. But there’s nothing wrong with copying someone’s success story. In his Pastured Poultry Profits book, Joel Salatin encourages folks to just copy what he did–not make mistakes he’s already made and corrected for no good reason. If you’re an inventor, creator, builder, Mr. Fix-It yourself, then I would encourage you to study what other folks have done before drawing your own design. Mr. Fix-It loves to check out YouTube and Google images (he’s a visual learner) to see other ideas before jumping into his own. Our new chicken house project is a conglomeration of other ideas and my husbands handiwork in re-using some greenhouse materials we acquired from a friend.

9. Do I have something I can use?

I formed this as a question because that’s how I’m writing the post. But actually, what this should say is SAVE EVERYTHING YOU CAN. {smile} Anything can be used on a small farm. I read about someone using an old truck camper shell/cap as a chicken field pen. I’ve read about folks using pallets to make animal pens. We used a dog kennel as the basis for our duck pen (which we’re using today as a chicken pen–remember, reuse!). We’re repurposing a cast-off greenhouse frame into a chicken house right now. We salvaged an old pop-up camper frame to make our old chicken house mobile. Our field pen/chicken tractor is tin from an old shed someone took down and shared with us because they knew we’d use “stuff like that.” As I mentioned last winter, we have piles of “farm junk” around because we try to keep anything that might be use-able in the future. This is part of being thrifty.

Here’s a picture of the back of our garage, with the back of the lean-to, and then the run-thru carport that we use for, well, anything we need. Lambing shed, lamb harvest shed, tractor shed, hay storage shed…it’s truly multi-purpose.

 

10. Do I care how it looks?

Ok, I saved this for last because I hate it, but it’s really important. The fact is that sometimes “practical” or “frugal” can start to look like crap. There, I said it. This bothers Mr. Fix-It much more than it bothers me. I’m not one to care what other folks think–but this has come to matter to me for a couple reasons that I think you should consider…

  • What your husband/partner/significant other/rest-of-the-family think is important. If they (or you!) hate rolling up in the driveway because the place looks like an abandoned farm scene from Chainsaw Massacre, well, you’re going to have issue with all kinds of other stuff. Your place should bring warmth and joy and pride, and home to your heart, or you’re not going to have the heart it takes to keep going when the going gets tough.
  • What your customers think is important. If you want customers, you have to consider what they think. Half your job is to educate them, and half your job is to meet their expectations. They’re expecting something from Old McDonald’s or Mother Goose. You probably can’t give them that, but you can probably meet them in the middle. If all you’re offering is Chainsaw Massacre, they probably won’t be back.
  • What the public thinks is important. I’m going to try to not be ugly here, but when it comes to farm animals, most people are ignorant and judgmental. If folks think your place looks like crap, they are going to think your animals are treated like crap, and they’re going to call someone and complain and you’re going to have a big headache. More people I know have gotten rid of their livestock because of neighbor complaints than because of financial issues. Most are completely unfounded and due to simple ignorance, but there it is. Most are not forced to get rid of their animals, they just get tired of feeling harassed.

Here’s the thing, you, as the farmer, need to know what you’re about. You need to know what your animals need and what they don’t. You need to know what you’re doing and why-or why not. You need to keep all these things in mind, think carefully, and make the best decisions for your place–and be ready to stand by them. It’s just part of farming in today’s world.

Here’s the kiddos bedding down the cow hut–bigger than the sheep huts, but same design. Pretty much any animal could use it, or we could use it for feed or equipment storage.

 

Source : www.walkinginhighcotton.net

 

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Ugh, got very sick over the weekend

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I don’t know if it was food poisoning or a very bad allergic reaction to some peppers in a TV dinner but I was very ill for about four days and I’m still recovering. It was all in my guts and very unpleasant so I won’t go into details, but I did learn a few lessons.

As long as you can stay hydrated and keep liquids down you will probably do better staying home resting rather than going to the ER or hospital. Stay with mild foods, saltine crackers, broths, boiled or scrambled eggs and toast as your tummy can handle it. My stomach actually handled things like “Otter Pops” or the cheap sort generic pop-sicles for taste and hydration. I got some brand Popsicle on sale and they seem to have an off flavor and texture that did not set well with my tummy.

Another thing I like about Otter pops is you can store them in the box and freeze a few at a time or as needed. While I will be  50 years old in October, some how those Popsicle seem to be the thing for me when I get sick. I believe they will be a great thing for all kids when sick to help keep them hydrated and help reduce fevers. Of course you could make your own little posicles ahead of time with some juice, saran wrap, toothpicks and Ice cube trays if you plan on getting sick. I seldom plan on getting sick so I never have those little things done ahead of time.  Keep a few bottles of Ginger ale on hand/in the pantry for Nausea and tummy upsets. Both Mom and I agree on Shasta ginger ale seems to be the best for us. Mom’s tummy trouble is stress and her IBS acting up. Mine was I was just sick, but I like the flavor of the Shasta ginger ale better than Canada Dry. I want to make a bit of ginger beer(almost no alcohol) for my pantry home remedies but I doubt I will get to it until this fall.

Some good news, I am feeling better and I got all of the misters and fans set up for the 100+ degree heat will have for the next several days.  Most of the garden is handling the heat well but we are still tweaking stuff for watering and protecting the plants.  I spent good money on a thick soaker hose and the hose has already blown out in less than 2 weeks. I have a good oscillating sprinkler I bought last year and Mom loves it for watering the garden.  I’m now working on adding quick disconnect to all hoses as I hate the idea of hoses across walkways that could trip us up and cause us to fall.

The little 12 volt fan and B&D power supply are starting to show their age and getting a bit worn out. Both are at least 10 + years old and cost under $25.00 when I bought them used.  Remember 12 volt batteries will go bad even if you baby them along. Fans will fail if you use them a lot and I use fans year round to circulate warm air in winter and cool air in summer. So, I need to start adding backup fans and new power packs that are simple to use and charge.

That is all there is to preparing or survival. Try stuff out when you can afford to fail because everything still works at this time. Now is the time to test your summer preps/survival strategies even if it setting up a tent for the first time in the backyard.  Have you set up a camp cot? I can’t speak for everyone but adding that bar at the end of the cot to make it tight needs a lever and a bit of strength.  Are you using air mattresses to sleep on?  Have you aired them up physically and slept on them?  Have you used that “dutch oven” to cook over a fire or know how to position your solar panel for max energy or your solar oven for max heat?  Now is the time to test those things out.

Even if the test is a failure. I bet you will learn something even if it is something does not work.  Learning what does not work is a great lesson and critical to survival.

Added marigolds and lettuce greens

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The leaf lettuce is not doing great so I got some of the last lettuce plants at the home improvement and planted them in a large 18 gallon plastic “party bucket” that I have under a bit of shade on the cool side of the house. The plants were very root bound. In fact I had to break off and cut a lot of roots that matted up via the pot’s drainage holes.  Sorry to say I paid full price for these less than stellar starter plants, but beggars can’t be choosers. I got a few plants a a great price so it all sort of balances out in the long run.

I found a great little 6 pack of marigolds for $2.98 that finishes up planting those flowers that may help some of the bugs attacking my squash and melons.  Mom’s Lima bush beans were hit hard by insects and we are not sure if those beans will make it. It’s early days yet but it looks like the 3 sisters garden is doing well, though we are adding a little bit of soil to the mounds and some wood mulch once the pole beans get a bit more growth.

I have all kinds of plans for the front yard beds, but that is a lot of work and just keeping things weeded and trimmed back takes a lot of my energy. I planted 6 plants of mossy rose/ Potaluca as a replacement to the morning glory and weeds I’m trying to eliminate in my rose beds. I weeded but I’m pretty sure I will need to weed again as I did not get at the root of the problem.  It is a start and planting the mossy rose is a start on controlling the weeds. Rome was not built in a day and no gardener eschewed chemicals for a more natural approach to gardening saw results fast. It is slower but I want to build good soil and make a “perma-culture”/ food forest. Container gardening and raised beds do sort of work with that concept.  It ain’t easy or cheap but is doable if you have a bit of land and time.

If you are like me and planted your garden sort of late and you feel like you cheated buying plants.  Now is the time to start your succession plantings from seed. Start thinking about planting root crops that can last into late fall or need a bit of a nip of frost to set the sugars and sweetness of root crops.  What is the worst that can happen?  The plants don’t grow for some reason.  Keep trying to grow stuff and learn what works and what does not work for you.

You and I know that gardening is simple that does not mean that gardening is easy. Any moron that thinks they can throw out a few seeds on bare ground / dirt and get veggies or fruit is in for a rude awakening.

 

My budget survived the Senate gun bills

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I’m glad that the Senate gun control/no fly secret lists bill did not pass.  Now I can go back to my original layaway payment plan and get the little carbine paid off about mid July. I held back a bit of cash just in case the bills started moving forward so I will stock up a little on ammo instead.  This is a great example why you need to have a bit of savings or as I call it “Mad Money” stashed away for these sort of things that can happen in an instant and are completely out of your control. Start with saving a $5.00-$20.00 bill in your wallet or purse.

I have worked very hard to reduce my cost of living each month. Paying off debt, not getting a newer vehicle or credit card simply because I could “make the monthly payment”. In many ways I have hit the income sweet spot as I don’t pay income taxes and I am eligible for some government programs. I don’t qualify for EBT, Energy assistance or an Obama phone. Not paying income taxes is a huge help to my budget. Though I still have to pay all of the other taxes and fees imposed by government.

Garden Update:  The garden is doing much better than I expected even with the late start this year. I added some of the Scott’s Earth-gro wood mulch to the 4ft. x4 ft. bed and that took about 2/3rds of a two cubic foot bag. I also added a few marigolds to both garden beds though I need to add a few more to try and stop some of the bugs.  I will do a direct seed of some nasturtiums around the garden borders that might keep some of the bugs out of the garden.  Plus the nasturtiums flowers are edible and have sort of a black pepper flavor. This year I have not tried to plant something of every bit of space so the squash and cukes can spread out and I’m going vertical with climbing plants. The garden this year is a lot easier to work for me and Mom.Now Mom and I were behind the power curve getting plants in the garden but I am going to try succession planting with seeds. I want to add in a few root vegetables like turnips and they can be planted in late summer.  So even if you cheated buying nursery plants you still can try and grow from seed with succession planting.

Albertsons is going to have a great sale on meat this week. $1.88 for hamburger  though it is 70/30 so there is a bit of fat. That isn’t all bad as fat equals flavor.  So get out your meat loaf and meat ball recipes or simply brown some hamburger and can or dry it.

I don’t think we will see an economic crash this summer. I do think it is possible this fall in the Sept-Oct. time frame. There is not a darn thing I can do about it except prepare.  Turkey can be had for 99 cent per pound and silver is still under $20.00 per oz.  Prepping at least for me is always a work in progress.  While I may be wrong on timelines I tend to be vary right about saving money.

 

I think I got the last two tomatillo plants in canyon county and lessons learned

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The garden is doing great though we were a bit late starting some of the plants.  Actually I’m a bit amazed by how well the plants are doing via a the mix of sown seeds and some early starter plants. Today the pole beans are starting to sprout up through the ground of the 3 sisters garden experiment. I wish I could have started the plants in May, but I think the garden will be okay.  FYI for those that want to use straw as mulch.  While straw is a great mulch it does not break down quickly and if you use a small electric rototiller the straw binds up in the tines.  Because of that we are going to try out the Scott’s earth grow as a mulch for the garden beds as a weed blocker and for retaining water.  For my soil and the tools I have to work with using a bark mulch is the best solution for me and my garden.  But if straw works for your garden, go for it.  Every garden is special and it takes a few tweaks to make your garden grow.

Next job is eliminating Morning glory plants. While Morning glory is a pretty plant it climbs/spreads and strangles other plants I like around the homestead. Eliminated a weed or bad plant is good but you have to put in a new plant that chokes out the bad weed.  I’m going to try out some Mossy rose/Portulaca for my front yard beds as it is low growing and only a perennial (reseeds it self) for ground cover. If it works great if not it should not be to hard to replace next year.  Plus mossy rose is drought tolerant.

Some good new from the US senate on gun control laws and voting. It seems there was a bit of a backlash and the senators feared the American people might vote them out. I put a little 9mm carbine on layaway and I think I can get it off of layaway next week, rather than waiting on the Senate voting to take rights away from US citizens.

Things are getting “sporty” my friends and you need to be aware and prepared TODAY, just in case things go south.  If you are thinking of burying all your guns you need to dig them up.  Though I don’t have a problem if you bury “extra guns” as backup.

For this summer Home depot has a battery powered Ryobi fan for sale for under $40. 00 with an 18 volt lithium battery. These little Ryobi fans are great for cooling both people and animals.  I like the water misters and pump on the $80. 00 dollar model, but I recommend you get this fan or something similar to move both hot an cool air that is NOT dependent on the electric grid.

 

Sorry I have been a little lax in posting

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The heat wave broke today and 85 degrees feels like heaven. The house has been cool and I think the new roof and added vents were a big part contributor to keeping the house cool. The new kitchen ceiling fan has also made a huge difference moving the cool air though the house.

We were a bit late getting the garden started again this year what with all the home improvements and getting stuff painted.  Of course just for fun, I had to change the garden layout and try some new ways of planting stuff since life can be too simple for me. /sarcasm

We did buy plants and then had to spread out tarps to protect the plants when it got hot in the afternoon. Over all I think we may only lose two squash and one cucumber to the heat wave and I had to replace a watermelon plant but I think it was me that screwed up planting it and not the heat wave burning the plant.  The squash plant was a bit wimpy to begin with and the heat wave finished it off.

This year I have invested in heavy duty Tomato cages and so far the cages will hold a tarp with a couple of clothes pin to protect the plant from the sun.  I know it costs more money up front but I think investing in a higher quality tomato cage is worthwhile in the long run.  Plus the new cages have a protective coat and in different colors so you can use the cages for different types tomato plants that you will recognize at a glance.

While I am searching for excuses on why I am late for planting a garden. I am looking at how hard last year’s harvest was on myself and Mom as everything had to be processed at the same time. Now I have planted a sweet corn that seems to be doing well and should be ready to harvest about the middle of August. I have a pop corn and dent/flour corn that should be harvested around September and the corn can be left to dry on the stalk. My pole beans can be left to dry on the vine and winter squash can be harvested, stored in a cool dry area and then you can take a bit of time to process them. I did not start my garden with harvest times in mind but I think that timing and different plants will work better for me in the long run.

I’m excusing myself on my garden but it may just work out when august and September rolls around and I have limited physical energy to work processing the harvest.

More good news My golden raspberry is producing fruit this year. The Quinalt strawberries are growing great but they put out one of the smallest berries I have ever seen, though it it is a nice sort of nice tart tasting strawberry. My Black berry is growing great in its new spot. I have blossoms but I doubt I’ll get fruit this year.

I know this may sound like I’m getting excited about plants. That is because I am excited. I spent several years trying to grow strawberries, raspberries and blackberry plants and I watched them all die. I doubt, I will get a more hand-full of berries this year but it is a success in my books.

One thing that annoys me is people who claim to prep, have a few packets of seeds and think they will start a garden after the SHTF by just throwing a few seed in or on the ground and it will provide food for them.  Gardening, maintenance and harvesting a garden takes a lot of effort.  Please start a small garden of a few herbs, tomatoes and some peppers, those are simple to grow for a new gardener. Now my sweet corn is looking good so far in spite of the heat.  This is my first year growing corn so I expect I won’t have a great harvest.  The garden only augments my food supply it does not replace my stored food.  Yet…..

It doesn’t matter if you start with an acreage or a small herb garden in a container, you must start growing some of the food you eat if you want to be prepared and some what self-sufficient.

 

 

 

Painting is work but the Kill-Z is done in the kitchen

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Wow,  what a difference adding some paint to the drywall in the kitchen has made on how it looks.  Mom and I worked about three hours painting Kill-Z to the ceiling and walls. I had taped off most every thing prior to staring the primer paint job so it went quickly adding the paint.  FYI working with Kill-Z paint is it is thick as it is designed to cover up stains so it took a couple of passes with the roller to get down into the drywall texture. I was a surprised that the Kill-Z paint did not have a strong odor, though it is noticeable if you don’t have good ventilation and air flow.  The Kill-Z paint dried within a couple of hours. So a person could primer with it in morning and then add more paint/topcoat in the afternoon.  While I’m not a huge fan of a sterile white color I’m amazed just how good the kitchen looks just using the Kill-Z white paint.  The kitchen looks clean now and the lights look brighter compared to no paint and smoky walls. I don’t have a huge kitchen but I was a bit surprised we got the ceiling and walls all primed with just over a gallon of Kill-Z.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Before

As you can see the difference is pretty striking on how clean things look after adding texture and paint. I’m leaving most of the painter’s tape in place as I will be adding a semi-gloss off white to all of the walls and ceiling. Semi-gloss makes cleaning the walls a lot easier in a kitchen.  You can see that Mom and I took down the last metal remnant of the dropped ceiling and that also made a big difference in how clean the walls and ceiling look now. Last but not least, the kitchen feels more open and inviting.

I would recommend buying Kill-Z paint to use as a primer especially in a kitchen with all the grease and dirt that gets on walls. If you are a smoker, the Kill-Z will  cover the smoke/tar stains along with protecting your dry wall. I think buying the Kill-Z and using it as the primer will cost less in the long run compared to applying double coats of an expensive paint. At worse the I will get better paint coverage at the same price.

The kitchen still needs another coat of semi-gloss on the walls and ceiling but Mom and I are going to take at least a day off before we tackle that project. This works as Wednesday is shopping day and we are stocking up on meats and paper goods. I will add a few more gallons of semi-gloss paint and a couple more tarps for the wood piled on sale at True value. After the tarps are in place over the firewood I will start removing the roof that is basically rotting/warping wood over the wood pile area.

I can’t afford to restore Casa de Chaos to full Craftsman type home.  I think I can incoperate some 1930-1950’s decorating design ideas I like to make the house a happy, warm and inviting place to be.

 

Weather has been less than optimal but we still got a lot done.

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We got hail this week but most of the plants seemed to do all right despite the pounding. Most of my plants are somewhat protected in containers, so damage was minimal.  We are sort of behind the power curve on planting the garden but so far that is not a bad thing as the weather has been a bit wonky this year.  So far the plants  seem to be doing well and my focus has been adding in grass, making my pathways and a backyard that works for me and Mom.  Mom and I are doing a lot of basic yard maint. and cleaning up the grape vines has been a challenge this year since I let them get over grown along with the lilacs and a couple of or bushes. We got a lot of of the overgrown stuff cut back but we still have a lot of work to do on cutting back the grape vines.  I’m a little behind on putting the garden and it is rainy so rototilling the soil is just not on until the soil dries a bit. I’m adding a new bed to the front yard for edible flowers and annuls that just add a bit of color. The flower bed will be done in red landscape timbers to sort of fit the “craftsman home” effect.

True Value hardware is having a great sale for most of the things I need. I’m buying up Semi-gloss paint for the house as that makes the walls easy to clean and they have tarps on sale that will finish up protecting the wood pile from rain yet the tarps can be folded up to let the wood pile dry. The wood overhead cover is rotting and boards that support the roof are warping big time.  Two more tarps will cover the firewood and I can start cutting out the the bad roof over the wood pile.  I will be able to afford enough paint to cover most of the house with colors that work with a Craftsman type house.

I just bought a 10 gallon air compressor/oil type from Harbor Freight and a basic tool set up. This air compressor should be a large enough for most basic jobs around the house. I bought a small paint spray gun for paint but until I test it, I’m not sure about trusting it despite the reviews.

Mom always see what has not been done. I see how much we have got done.  Actually Mom gets down on herself for not doing more around the place. I think she is outstanding in her work cleaning up the grape vines and helping me trim up trees and bushes.  I suppose it goes back to her being a recovering Catholic.  It’s guilt imposed via childhood. I see the glass always full, It just might be full of air which is not helpful at times. I think we are doing great! The little “Casa de Chaos” got a new roof, a lot of work on the yard.  Hell we can run my washer without running a garden hose to the shower. We have grass for the dogs and great paths that are a pleasure to walk rather than uneven dirt that could twist an ankle of knee. I think we are doing pretty well over all.

The back yard is finished?

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Well the back yard is finished as far as adding the last wood mulch path/section. I can’t do much in the area that contains Mom’s chickens, but I have to say the birds are doing an outstanding job on working the compost pile and the egg count is holding steady despite the fact the chickens are getting a bit old.  Setting up the 4 foot high temporary fence that funnels the bird to the compost pile is working out much better than installing a temporary fence to keep the chicken out of the garden area.

The sod is doing okay but I have noticed some drying out of the grass at the seams and where I sort of cut and patched in sod in odd geometric areas.  Also a couple of my sprinklers did not do a great job of watering the sod.  If you add sod or grass seed you will need lots of water daily to get the grass established.

Now the first area I put down new grass seed is getting a nice green look. A few things I recommend.  Buy seed that is good for your zone. while some grass seeds produce a soft lawn like a carpet. I went with a fescue blend or garden seed and the sod was a mix of Bluegrass and fescue grasses  Also take in consideration if you have full sun or shady areas. Water daily or perhaps twice a day. Improve/Augment  your soil before you add grass seed.

I don’t avoid walking on the sod as it  has been in placed fairly well, but you don’t want to walk on any new grass seed areas. Most of the area I’m growing grass needed some soil augmentation. Adding in soil and compost may cost a few dollars and is a pain in the butt.  The better you make your soil, the better results you will see in the long term. Once some grass has grown and then I gently rake in new grass seed.  Over seeding a couple of times  has worked very well for me.

I’m getting rid of three of the raised bed gardens as I think the garden section of the yard has fairly good soil after the break down of the mulch for 2 years and all the stuff I have added via compost and manure.  Don’t get me wrong Raised beds and container garden worked great for me when I had terrible soil. Now my soil is better so I get to try out a new system for the garden area.

Will my new concept of the garden area work?  I haven’t a clue, but if it does work taking care of the garden should be simple and less work in the long term.

 

The last of the contractors are gone and all jobs are done.

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Demon Murphy showed up on the last job with the drywall but things are still working out very well. I give most of the contractors an A+ on the job and a B grade goes to the contractor that broke the drain hose/ PVC connection while pulling out the washer to get at the drywall job.  There was also a little over spray but Mom got it all cleaned up while it was damp.

We need to paint and I’m going with Kill-Z as my primer/sealer. Now that the contractors are done with their work, I need to paint. Once basic paint work is done I will post some pics. Overall I have had good luck picking contractors and the city of Nampa has a few more good solid contractors for the city. I got at least 3 bids for every job, several contractors I did not pick got into the city system for future jobs.  It may sound a bit silly but all contractors were doggie tested and approved.  I think animals pick up on body language and the pets don’t get faked out by those that talk a “good game”.  Even the city of Nampa person was amazed about how great the people/contractors worked out. Well if my dog doesn’t like you. I’m going to give you some extra scrutiny. If my dog likes you, only normal levels of scrutiny.

While I don’t think I’m all that special. I think the city of Nampa folks likes me since I continue to make my yard great. It was a bit funny as a guy from the office asked where I got my cistern, mulch, soil and sod for the back yard project. I’m not alone on working towards some self-reliance. Every person that gets prepared or works towards self-reliance is one less target and one more potential ally.

Laying mulch pathways is not easy or cheap. It is a great way to add organic material to bad dirt and star building a topsoil as well as conserving water on lawns & gardens. Mulch is great for leveling dirt paths and provides a soft cushion if you fall.  Hell just not worrying about twisting an ankle is worth all of the paths I have set done.

I’m at the lower end of the economic food chain and I got all this work done with some help of the city government and I’m sure some federal money was involve. These things can work and we should not throw the “baby out with the bath water”.  These sort of jobs need to be focused on people that will improve them selves and not just looking for another handout.

I probably added a few grand of value just by cleaning up the stuff that was out of code. But I have seen this house valued as low as $55 grand  and as high $135 grand.  It’s just my little house I will make the best I can so it works for me. I ain’t looking to sell or take out a heloc.

Using Landscape timber, weeding and the little garden cart

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For the border around the rock entrance way and chicken pen I used landscape timbers rather than the concrete borders. My reasoning is both Mom and I have bad knees and we tend to drag our feet rather than not so tall to step over stuff, especially when we get tired from working on the yard.  The landscape timbers have a rounded edges, so we don’t tend to to catch a toe or foot that can make us fall. The landscape timber I’m referring too is the stuff you see and home improvement stores that they use with concrete blocks to make a small border fence around displays outside the store. Mom fed the chickens and had no problems with navigating the new wood borders even with her stiff knee but both she and I can have a few problems with the scalloped edged concrete edge borders when we are tired.

I cut into the bare dirt in order to place the timbers so they would be tall enough to keep the rock and mulch in place, but so tall they would trip us up as we work in the backyard. I know most people don’t break up a yard in sections but I’m very pleased how the mulch pathways and different sections are working out. While I’m breaking up the yard into sections I’m planing to eliminate several of the raised beds for the garden.  The mulch has broken down and has improved the clay soil beyond my wildest dreams. I will be eliminating 3 of the 4 raised beds and going with a bit more traditional garden rows this year.

The areas that have grass seed got weeded and the grass is growing. So far I have added grass seed several times and I am water those area a lot more than I thought would be needed. But we do have grass growing along with some weeds. Mom helped me clean out the weeds in the backyard strips along the borders/mulch.  Grass seed needs to be watered daily and be prepared to reseed every week until the grass gets starting out. Speaking for myself it seemed the grass seed was not growing for a week or two and then it suddenly started growing. Remember the grass will look a bit thin and it will take some time to fill in bare areas.

Mom and I did a bit of weeding and I love the new little garden cart I got at Fred Meyer. I was still a bit sore in the lower back, but my knees were saved from the pain squatting to pull weeds. I really like as I can toss all my small gardening tools in the little garden wagon.

Do your best to make all jobs as easy as possible because if the SHTF you will be working hard just to do basic stuff to survive. Mama nature does not care about me being a Vet or being disabled. I have to be creative as much as possible because this test is a Pass/Fail. You live you pass this test.

Sod is finished Huzzah!

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Before
After
After 2

This is the before and after on the sod project. The rest of the grassy areas will be done with grass seed. One mistake I made with the grass seed was not keeping the ground wet. I’m now watering the grass seed areas daily and it has helped get the new grass areas started growing. I will be using landscape timbers as a border on the right and at the rock entry area at the back gate. The last job will be adding in more mulch on the right  and that should keep down the weeds and break down to add organic material to the dirt.

Mom did a great job on cleaning up the grape vines and the alley way. Now I can add the sedums, plant the sunflowers and add more mulch to keep down the weeds and hopefully the new plants will start choking out the weeds. Just killing or pulling weeds is not enough if you want to have good soil and growing spaces. You got to help mama nature by replacing the weeds with good plants.

Now that we have the backyard mostly finish mom and I can concentrate on the garden area.

I started laying out the sod

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Laying out sod isn’t cheap but it seems to be a good choice for the small area I want grass for the doggies. The area I’m laying the sod is 30 feet by 12 feet so about 20 rolls of sod is enough to cover the area.  I laid out 12 rolls of sod today and another 8 rolls should finish up the job. The other areas along the borders I have planted grass seed and while slower, it is also a lot easier on the budget. Prepping/building up your soil is critical for both grass seed and sod along with keeping the ground, grass seed and sod damp so the grass can take hold and put down good roots.  The internet has great info about how to lay out sod as well as calculating the cost. You will get sod for about 30 cents per square foot and if you have poor soil figure about 30 cents per square foot to improve the soil. 65 -75 cents per square foot is a good guesstimate for the cost of sod but if you have time for growing grass from seed you can half that cost.  Of course if you buy sod in bulk you will probably get a better price.  If you have someone else install the sod you should double the price because of labor.  I think most people could handle laying sod as a DIY project and save some money at least if you want to sod a small area and not a whole yard.

For grass seed or sod you will need to prepare the soil.  A de-thatching rake is perfect for cutting into bare dirt to make it easier for the grass to put down roots.  Also a de-thatching rake is great for keeping a lawn healthy.  I’m adding a lot of top soil as well as some Steer manure/compost mix to augment the clay soil I have in the backyard. Mom’s chickens are doing a great job turning over the compost pile, but I’m still learning the best way to incorporate the compost in my yard work and building the soil. If you decide on sod, lay out the rolls off set sort of like tile so the “seams” of the sod are not all parallel or you will get gaps.  Plan your yard to make all yard work as easy and quick as possible while being inviting.  Using mulch and rock to block weeds, creating borders and paths ways will stop you from creating bad/dead areas in your lawn plus cut down on weeding or using a weed wacker around trees that may cut into the trunk and give an opening to bad bugs. While I’m cheating by adding sod for a quick lawn area I’m also looking at what the yard will look like in the future as well as how functional it is for ease of work.

A few things I noticed about laying out sod. The dogs love having the grassy area and have not done as much digging where I have planted grass seed in other areas. By adding mulch and now the sod we have several nice soft areas that are a pleasure to walk on and will help cushion falls. This is a great thing considering my handicap and works well for anyone with weak bones.  A big plus for me is I’m leveling my backyard and no longer fear twisting an ankle then falling down on hard soil or concrete paths. Mulch paths help retain water and healthy grass will help a lot blocking any weed growth.  Healthy plant growth really cuts down on the mud the dogs bring in. Last winter was a nightmare of mud because I had so much bare ground. Gosh if I had kids it would have ten times worse.

One last thing. If you have a clay soil don’t add sand for drainage as you will make a terrible concrete. Add organic material such as a wood mulch or compost. This is a slower method but after the mulch/compost breaks down over the winter you will have better soil for plants and or a garden.  Using sand for leveling if building a stone wall, deck or garden bed borders is okay. Building good soil can take years depending on your dirt.  Remember if you have lots of weeds your soil is probably missing something. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to experiment with solutions. The solutions may not work but at least you will have learned something practical and not just based on theory.

Don’t be afraid to screw up as that is how you learn. The school of hard knocks may seem a little expensive but it is still a lot cheaper than a college degree and you get to try out both theory and practical applications of your knowledge.

 

Roof is done

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I could not believe how quickly the roofers got the job done.  From the time the the truck delivered the shingle to when the roofers left about 8.5 to 9 hours. The clean up was good and I only had a couple of plants sort of bent over in the front yard beds.  I don’t know a lot about roofs but what little I picked up everything looks good. The roofers added a couple more vents so this summer things should be cooler in the house.

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Another nice touch is all my gutters got cleaned out so the roof area is pretty much ready for fall. That was the biggest job and all that is left is getting the Kitchen ceiling taped and textured.

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The light is good right now and I expect once the ceiling is finished it will get better overall.

Here are a couple of better pictures of the Back yard work so far. After I add the sod next week I will post up a few more pictures.

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You can see the tree ring I did with a bit of small pebbles around the apple tree. The grass sod will be on the left hand side of the border so the pups will have a nice grassy area in the back yard. The back yard is starting to come together for this summer.

 

 

April showers are good!

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Had a good rain and the weather is going to be a bit unsettled all week. Another wind storm is coming through should finish off all of the tree shedding stuff.  The rain barrel and cistern added more water.The cistern is over 50 gallons and the last rain barrel is about 3/4ths full.  Once the windstorm passes I can clean out the gutters again and trim off all of the dead tree limbs. Mom can’t wait to break out the little chainsaws and get to work on trimming up the bigger stuff in the backyard. The weather forecast this week looks good for more cleaning up of the grape vines.

I’m going to pull down the temporary fence around the container garden since the chickens seem to be happy in the small fenced off area that includes the compost pile. I can’t believe how much work the birds have done “turning over” just by scratching around in the compost pile a couple of hours per day.  This a win/win as the birds get what they want in bugs and I get the piled turned over with minimal physical effort from me.

I’m going to add a some sod to the grass areas I have already prepped with soil and steer manure. When I pulled the little stone pavers for the back gate entry way I noticed that earthworms were starting to migrate to the mulch areas. I have also noticed the water retention of the bad soil areas seems to be getting better as there is not as much puddling of water. I will be moving a few things around as I’m trying to be flexible enough to work with Mama Nature. I have been surprised by how my dogs use the mulch pathways, compared to the sidewalks or just dirt areas for getting around and where they poo. While I have not walked across the mulched pathways with bare feet. The difference compared to walking across concrete or even soil/ hard pan is significant. If you fear falling for what ever reason. I would recommend adding mulched path ways to your yard. Plus once you lay out a basic layer of wood mulch topping it off every year of two does not cost a lot of money. Like most things the startup costs can be a little high, but maintaining it is low cost. Especially considering all the benefits you get on improving soil and water retention immediately.

I’m adding some “Dragon’s Blood” sedum ground cover to the alley way garden area along with some sun flowers.  My hope is adding these new plants will start to overwhelm the “cheat grass” that is sprouting up.  I see the sun chokes are starting to put out new growth  when I planted them last year.  At this point of time I’m not harvesting the sunchokes as I want them to spread and help choke out the weeds. I have to say the “black walnut leaf” killer mulch did a great job but I did not have a good plan for replacement plants this spring. The low growing sedum and hopefully the mossy rose will re-seed this year. That is my alley way garden replacement plan for the weeds this year.

I dropped the ball on how well I expected the compost pile to add to my yard but overall I think Mom’s chickens will make a big difference this year in the quality of the compost. I’m doing a lot of work and investing in products for the backyard but I’m seeing some results though it is slower than I anticipated originally. Overall I’m pleased as I am making good progress on a sustainable system despite a few setbacks.

Plumbing work is done, mulch paths sort a firgured out

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While the plumber cut out some dry wall, the new washer box and pipe looks beautiful to me. The hot and cold water lines are labeled correctly and the washer is draining properly!  The only thing left on the washer and dryer area is replacing the feed hoses. My washer hoses are at least 13 years old and those hoses tend to operate under very high pressure.  So, it is better to replace the hoses rather than wait until one of them springs a leak or suffer a catastrophic failure. As far as the drain pipes go the plumber left me with a drain cleaner to use for 5 days to clean out the old gunk and then use monthly to keep the pipes clear.  I really liked how the main office called me saying the plumber was on the way and then called me after the job was done to arrange a time for the city code inspector to check out the work. If you live in the Treasure valley I would recommend  Wickstrom for plumbing and they also do heating and cooling work.

A drywall contractor stopped by to give a bid.  He seemed good about explaining how to  keep costs down on different textures.  While it may sound funny all of the contractors I have been “doggie tested” and approved.  Even the gal at the city remarked on how nice and what a great “vibe” she got off of all of the contractors I have selected for the job. I  don’t think it is silly, as pets pickup on negative energy and body language. While I won’t say I have never gone against my pets, I give extra scrutiny to anyone my pets don’t seem to like or avoid. Usually my pets are correct!

The backyard pathways are changing again and getting smaller and the grass areas are getting larger than I had planned. I don’t mind the change overall because I’m either paying for mulch or adding in more soil and organic matter to improve the soil.  After I get the basic layout done I will post up some pictures of the progress.

One benefit of I did not anticipate was the chickens scratching and mixing up my compost pile after I put up a temporary fence to keep them from eating the grass seed in the back yard. While the birds can be a little messy scratching in the compost pile, they are getting down to the actually  good broken down compost and bringing it up so I can start loading up the wheel barrow to spread around my plants and trees.  I don’t mind creating a larger compost section that is chicken scratch- friendly. The chickens get what they want and I get what I want so it is a win/win situation.

One of the major concepts of making a food forest rather than just a garden is using all of Mother nature to make it self-sustaining and assist you making life simpler if not always easier on the work load. Also you are creating a circular system of growth by using natural by-products to create new growth.  This does not violate the natural law of energy of thermodynamics as you are harnessing the plants use of the sun to create growth and only converting energy to a usable form rather than trying to destroy and replace it.  It maybe easier to get some Round up and kill/sterilize a soil short term.  Long term compost, building a healthy soil is the way to go.  One way or another you are trading money for time. One way sustains its self and the other way is a money rat hole that sustains nothing but the Agri-mega corporations.