Two new garden beds are complete!

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The 10 foot long by 32 in wide and 6 inch tall raised beds are complete. I added 6 cu. ft. of garden soil and 3 cu. ft. of steer manure compost mix to fill the beds.  I need to run the tiller one more time to make sure all of the soil is mixed well and ready to plant.  I added in the wood mulch between the beds so I no longer have to walk in the garden to till or weed the garden.  That should make weeding easier during the season and working the garden in the off-season should be less of a chore.  I have room for one more of the new raised beds but I need to wait until the 1st of May to buy all the materials needed for that bed.

Tucker the peke tilled up the kiddie pool, so it is ready for leaf lettuce/ greens and spinach. I am gifting Mom my small (2 ft x 4 ft.) beds to start a garden at her new place.  This not a perfect solution but it is a good start for her garden area.  Heck if her herb garden does okay and she can make a small salad garden she will save money and eat good food through the summer.  Right now my garden area will be the main focus for growth and harvest.  Mom will be doing  container gardening until she figures out the Micro-climates around her new house.  It looks like I have a few volunteer plants/trees and Mom wants to plant a volunteer maple I found in my yard.  Once the holly bushes start producing seed berries we can get those plant growing to make a wind break around her land.

I’m a bit late starting plants indoors but the weather forecast is looking great so I can start plants like lettuce, carrots, radishes, cauliflower and broccoli by seed in one bed.  I want to add a root crop bed for for beets, parsnips turnips and colarabi.  The last built bed will be the hot loving plants like tomatoes, peppers, onions and such like plants.  I am still trying the 3 sisters garden in my southern exposed beds. I think what the plants need is more soil mounded up and less watering compared to last year.

I love the new little fence posts I got from D&B (local farm store).  These posts are made for an electric fence but they work great with temporary plastic garden fencing. The spike at the bottom of the post is easy to “step” into the ground a couple of zip ties attaches the fence to the post and it easy to use two posts to make a gateway/access to your garden.  Using just a few of these posts made the temp. fence faster and easier to install and has kept Tucker the peke from digging in the new garden beds.  One thing about Tucker, he loves digging in freshly turned beds!  I did leave his digging spot under the walnut trees alone.

I will start plants indoors for a second/fall planting in the beds. I still need a frame for frost protection these beds are designed to work as a cold frame in the future.  That should extend my growing season by a few weeks. Once the backyard area is cleaned up and a little luck,  I might be able to build my hard side green house this fall.

I’m still using containers for several plants like my potatoes, strawberry, raspberries and blackberries.  Some plants spread and some plants take some time to find a happy spot in the yard. Large container plantings work great for plants and if you have limited space for growing.  Comfrey is a great medicinal plant but it can take over a garden.  It really grows great in a kiddie pool with very minimal attention. Sunchokes grow great in poor soil and are great for choking out poor soil weeds.  But they can also spread.  I did not plant the grapes in my yard and it has been a lot of work to learn how to keep them cut back and under some control.  I have literally taken a small chain saw to cut back the grape vines, holly and lilac trees.  It is some work to cut them back so be aware of how much effort you are willing to keep plants cut back and healthy.  If you love those plants you can transplant them from the containers into a spot in your yard.  From my experience those plants will grow the way they want and not the way you want the plants to grow.

The making dog food thing is going well over all thought there has been a glitches.  As I have written before the green bean as vegetable matter in dog food is not a fix for an overweight dog.  I still put down a quality dry dog food kibble so the pups can get basic food basics and vitamins.  The dogs really seem to like the peas & carrot mix for the veggies.  They did eat the green beans when not offer an alternative.  I’m trying out several recipes and ingredient mixes and the dogs preferred the beef, broccoli and barley mix over the chicken, white rice and green beans.  Of course I also have empty doggie food bowls no matter the mix.  Before I had to throw out wet canned dog food that got all crusty and dried out.  While I do have canned dog food as back ups it is nice that I can simply cook up a new batch of dog food from my fridge/pantry and not buy dog food from the local mega-mart.

There is a huge difference between what I want to have and what I need to have.  As money and time allows I’m working on the need to haves first this summer.

Had to take a day off from heavy lifting

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I have been running all week and none of the jobs done were light weight endeavors. I built 2 of the new raised beds with Mom’s assistance, tilled the other garden beds with Tucker the pekes’s help with digging. Stacked about 2 cords of wood, though Mom stopped by and helped finish off the 1/3 of a cord stacked in the carport. Mom and I loaded up several of her planters so she can start her container garden at her new place.  Mom grabbed some of the older chicken wire so she can protect some new trees she wants to grow at the new house.

This week I bought two new thorn-less blackberry plants, some seed potatoes, more soil and manure for the raised beds along with wood mulch for around the beds and replacement much for the yard walkways.  I’m trying out some new step-in fence posts that should keep Tucker the peke from digging in the planted garden beds.  I’m going to use temp. plastic fencing but these post are designed for electric fence strands so I have the option to change it if it becomes needed.  What I like is these little fence posts have a metal spike to drive into the dirt and plenty of hooks to hold the fence taut.  Once I gift Mom a couple of my smaller raised beds (2 ft. x 4 ft.) and move a couple of the kiddie pool beds it should be simple to block Tucker off from digging in the garden beds.  Tucker the peke will have plenty of digging area under the walnut trees where most plants don’t grow very well and that area is sort of the bird and squirrel area.

Mom and got a few more of her things moved out to her place and I got some of the “inheritance” furniture items back as she is having floor space issues. Gosh, we both have prepped a lot a stuff  (for family) and now those prep items are excess so Mom will have a big yard sale this summer!  After that stuff is sold Mom can put the cash back into her place and make some stuff happen for her place!  It would be great if she could make enough on the yard sale to run a power line out to her shop area and fence off her wide open drive way area.

Update on the dog food test:

It seems the dogs like for carbs Brown rice, pearled barley and white rice in that order. For vegetables: peas and carrots were the big winner, chopped broccoli was okay and green beans were the least favorite.  As far as meats go,  chunk/stew type beef seems to be the preferred meat, chicken okay and hamburger is okay.  The dogs are eating all of the new home made dog food and are no longer getting sick even when I add in a new dog food recipe.  I’ll be adding in some raw beef bones so the dogs have a teeth cleaner and can gnaw on the bones for extra minerals.  I tried a new recipe for bone broth and was very disappointed with the results.  The new broth turned out very greasy and the bones did not crumble after 48 hours in the crock pot.  so I’ll go back to the original recipe I used. While I added garlic and onion for flavor the dog’s took no harm I could see when I added the first bone broth to cook the brown rice.  I wonder if it is ingesting the onion/garlic vegetable matter that is so bad for dogs?  Perhaps when you strain the veggies out and all you are left is flavor and vitamins, onion and garlic is not so bad for dogs?  I don’t know, but I’m keeping the dogs exposure to onion and garlic at a minimum.

Removing wood sap: I was literally covered in sap and lots of scratches after stacking the Douglass Fir.  I took a hot bath because I need one, wash with soap and then put Avon’s skin so soft on my arms covered in sap and it washed off with no scrubbing.  My Mom used to sell Avon products but not any more so we make no money by this endorsement.  If you need to remove sap, goo, tar or anything like that get a big bottle or two of  Avon’s Skin so Soft for safely getting that gooey stuff off your skin.  I also like Avon’s Skin so Soft insect repellent/sunscreen.  It works great against all the bugs in SW Idaho, Death Valley California (NTC) and Central Washington (YTC) that I have personally tested while in the US Army.

P.S.  Two things I learned with stacking wood.  A good sticky tape is great for pulling out sprinters from your hands and much easier and less painful/ damaging than digging them out with a needle or knife.  If your glove fill with splinters, dirt or what ever collects in the fingers of the glove that you can’t shake out.  Place the glove over a vacuum/shop vac hose and suck those little bits of gunk out of your gloves. I don’t know about you but the ends of my leather glove always get filled with gunk while I’m working on projects.  Then the gloves end up with a finger full of little gunk you can’t remove and that makes the gloves hard to use.  Perhaps other people already do that, but I found out just how great it works for clear the gunk from the interior of my gloves this week.  Fabric type gloves this not such a big problem as they can be easily turned inside out and washed.  Leather gloves can’t be machine washed or turned inside out easily especially the the thick work gloves.

A great thing is after all this physical labor now all I have to do is finish up the projects as all the heavy work is done.  Cut a few PVC pipes for garden hoops to support frost cover drape. Drill a few brackets, test out some fence posts and plant some early seed plants and get some plants started growing indoors for trans planting.  I’m still catching up but each year I get started a little earlier on plants.

I’m officially tired of stacking wood and I’m only about half done.

I’ve spent 4 hours per day for two days with rest breaks, stacking all the new Douglas fir for the upcoming winter and I’m already tired of stacking wood. Gosh, moving and stacking two cords of wood has been a heck of a work out for me and I’m not finished! All of my wood racks are full up to about five and a half feet in high/tall.  I think about 1/3 + of the total wood was dumped close the the carport still needs to be stacked.  I tossed down some old wood shelves over a rock base that should help keep the carport fire wood from soaking up water and will provide some dimensions of the cords/amount of wood I have on hand for the next heating season.  A nice thing about this wood delivery is there was a lot of small wood that is perfect for kindling. Between the mill ends and these smaller pieces of wood I should not have to cut up as much kindling next winter heating season.

Once I finish stacking all this wood, I will make the decision on getting another load of wood delivered around July or August.  Last year I was scrambling to find a wood provider after getting scammed and some of cords of wood delivered were a bit short of a full cord.  The prepper in me wants to stack at least a couple years worth of firewood. As of right now I’d do almost anything not to stack firewood.  That is just my sore muscles talking at the moment.  My carport area is great spot to stack up another couple of cords of wood and it could still be used as a carport or overhead protected work space.  The carport has a motion detector spot light so I’ll get some warning if anyone wants to to liberate some of my firewood.  Overall we had a fairly mild/ not brutally cold winter this last year and I still had some firewood leftover even after giving some fire wood to Mom for her new place.   Adding the new siding and windows really made Casa de Chaos much warmer and easier to heat. It will be interesting to see how the new windows and siding affect the summer energy costs. I’m sure costs will be lower but how much lower is the question to be answered.

FYI: I’m still using tarps to cover the top of my wood pile though they get a lot of wind in the breeze ways to help dry/season the wood.  I think using a tarp over the top of your firewood to protect from rain or snow is good.  Sealing your wood with a tarp is bad as the wood needs to breathe and season.  By adding a tarp that covers the top of the wood both ends of the stacked wood will get dried via the wind yet not soaked by rain.  In the next couple of years I want to build proper overhead protection but for now the tarps and bungie cords are working for firewood protection.

Mom is stopping by the house to get some big planters to start container gardening and offered to help move fire wood.  She is grabbing some chicken wire I was going to trash to wrap around trees to protect them.  I have a few left over wood stakes that might help with that project. I  have to put up at least a temp fence/barrier to keep Tucker the peke from digging in the garden beds.  Tucker is a digging fiend and digs garden beds up great in the spring but he does not take direction well or know when to stop.

I’m officially tired of stacking wood and I’m only about half done.

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I’ve spent 4 hours per day for two days with rest breaks, stacking all the new Douglas fir for the upcoming winter and I’m already tired of stacking wood. Gosh, moving and stacking two cords of wood has been a heck of a work out for me and I’m not finished! All of my wood racks are full up to about five and a half feet in high/tall.  I think about 1/3 + of the total wood was dumped close the the carport still needs to be stacked.  I tossed down some old wood shelves over a rock base that should help keep the carport fire wood from soaking up water and will provide some dimensions of the cords/amount of wood I have on hand for the next heating season.  A nice thing about this wood delivery is there was a lot of small wood that is perfect for kindling. Between the mill ends and these smaller pieces of wood I should not have to cut up as much kindling next winter heating season.

Once I finish stacking all this wood, I will make the decision on getting another load of wood delivered around July or August.  Last year I was scrambling to find a wood provider after getting scammed and some of cords of wood delivered were a bit short of a full cord.  The prepper in me wants to stack at least a couple years worth of firewood. As of right now I’d do almost anything not to stack firewood.  That is just my sore muscles talking at the moment.  My carport area is great spot to stack up another couple of cords of wood and it could still be used as a carport or overhead protected work space.  The carport has a motion detector spot light so I’ll get some warning if anyone wants to to liberate some of my firewood.  Overall we had a fairly mild/ not brutally cold winter this last year and I still had some firewood leftover even after giving some fire wood to Mom for her new place.   Adding the new siding and windows really made Casa de Chaos much warmer and easier to heat. It will be interesting to see how the new windows and siding affect the summer energy costs. I’m sure costs will be lower but how much lower is the question to be answered.

FYI: I’m still using tarps to cover the top of my wood pile though they get a lot of wind in the breeze ways to help dry/season the wood.  I think using a tarp over the top of your firewood to protect from rain or snow is good.  Sealing your wood with a tarp is bad as the wood needs to breathe and season.  By adding a tarp that covers the top of the wood both ends of the stacked wood will get dried via the wind yet not soaked by rain.  In the next couple of years I want to build proper overhead protection but for now the tarps and bungie cords are working for firewood protection.

Mom is stopping by the house to get some big planters to start container gardening and offered to help move fire wood.  She is grabbing some chicken wire I was going to trash to wrap around trees to protect them.  I have a few left over wood stakes that might help with that project. I  have to put up at least a temp fence/barrier to keep Tucker the peke from digging in the garden beds.  Tucker is a digging fiend and digs garden beds up great in the spring but he does not take direction well or know when to stop.

Started on the Spring jobs/projects

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Since  SW Idaho had a couple of mostly dry days this weekend I started the Spring projects.  I roto-tilled the area for two of the new raised beds.  I raked up the soil areas and sort of mounded up the soil  where the new beds will be located. I need to add some more soil and compost but it looks like I will have plenty of additional soil from my last Home Depot shopping run.

One of the things I wanted with the new raised beds is mulched walk ways between the beds to make the garden easier to work. I have about 2 feet between the beds filled with wood mulch so I have a pathway wide enough for my wagon and room to work beside the garden beds.   This year’s focus will be ease of use and food production.  I have proven I can grow plants now I need garden beds that are easy to work and maximize food production in a limited space.  I will have less total garden sq. footage but I hope my production will be the same or higher.  Mom will give me a hand with the construction of the new garden beds.  We will load up some of the planters for her place so she can start growing a few veggies and herbs for her new place.

I finally got the first spring mowing of the front lawn finished up.  It is supposed to be rainy and cool so I’ll get the lawn food, fertilizer added between breaks in the rain over the next couple of days. Next weekend is looking like it will be warming up so I want to to give the lawn a good clean up with the rake then lay down some grass seed and compost to start filling in some bad spots.  It looks like I have to wait a few more days to get the front yard beds tilled and planted with early crops.

Next week will be busy. I have 2 cords of wood to be delivered. Finish up the garden beds and till the old beds.  Finish up the new compost bin.  Top off the shopping needs odds and ends.

Update on the dog food test:  I’m not sure I’m saving any money so far but the dogs and even the cat like the new home made “wet” dog food. It is early days on this test but so far I think it is going well.  The dogs seem to take a bit of time to eat the brown rice and  barley as carbs.  I’m going to try out some mixes adding green beans, white rice and some chicken thigh meat rather than chicken breasts.  I will be making more bone broth of all types.  I don’t have garden fresh veggies so I’m using Frozen veggies at this time.  Peas and carrot mix is a win, chopped broccoli seems a good veggie.  Next is trying out green beans.  From what I have been reading yams/sweet potato or even potatoes may be a good carb mix for a dog.

I’m cooking up a mix of 1/3 veggies, 1/3 carbs and 1/3 protein and about 10% fats.  That is a bit rich in protein as most recipes say about 20-25%  protein for dogs.  Overall I see the dogs eating better and not hungry.  I have less waste compare to canned dog food. This week I’m buying raw bones for bone broth and for the dogs to chew on. Bones should add some minerals to the doggy diet.  After this week I may add in a bit of salmon so the dogs get those healthy fats and Omega-3 oils.  I’m staying away from adding any onion or garlic in the next bone broth batch but the little bit of onion or garlic I added to the last bone broth did not hurt the dogs. While dogs may not complain about the diet, the more variety in a diet the better the dogs get all the nutrition that they need.

Am I ready?  I don’t know,  because I have no idea what will happen in the future.   Do I think you have time to prepare?  Yes,  how much time for prep I have no idea.  Keep on building on your preps and get those soft spots filled in.  If you have been around this website you should have at least a couple of weeks of food and water stored.  A sanitation plan, a bug out bag and tent.  You have learned to bake bread, grow a garden and stored seeds. You have a couple of rain barrels or at least a tarp and buckets to capture rain water.  You have a water filter or 2 and propane or rocket stove and your grill has fuel for cooking. Going a couple of days without water or power is easy because you are ready and have practiced.  You know how turn off the power to your home and turned off all the gas.  You aren’t freaked out by not having city utilities. You have back ups to your back ups.

Heck we saw the Donald tomahawk Syria in 2017, this is another practice run not a time to panic.  I’m putting the last touches on my survival plan.  Trying to max out my cash on hand, topping off my gas tanks and replacing a propane tank.  Plus build food garden beds. Not time to panic but a time to practice.

Bombing Damascus, now what do I do?

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Think of the kind of preparations you would do if there is a big storm coming and you could lose water, power or the sewer system for at least a couple of weeks and you must stay indoors for 14 days.  Wishing for more time won’t help you today.  You must start working with what you have right now. Now this might blow over like the air strike last year in Syria, so I don’t think you should panic and go max out your credit cards doing last minute shopping or buy excavation equipment for a week end bunker build project.  Now is a good time to look at the state of your preps and make sure everything you already have on hand is ready to use.

Some things you might check:

  1. Do you have a full tank of gas in your vehicle?  Do you have a couple of gas cans full of gas with sta-bil added for storage?  How about a couple of quarts of oil for your generator if you need it for power and it works.  While nukes and/or an EMP would be very bad it sounds like Russia is trying to keep things to conventional warfare strikes.
  2. Water: Do you have all your water containers full?  I have a rainwater collection system that I will top off with City irrigation water then close the water containers to keep out any possible contamination.  How is your (safe drinking) water storage looking? While 1 gallon per day per person for 14 days is consider the standard. I would try for storing 3-5 gallons per day per person and a gallon of water per day for pets.  While the average  water filter will not screen out radioactive particles, having a water filter if your safe water supply system stops working because of supply disruption is a good idea.
  3. Speaking of pets: Do you have 2 weeks worth of food for your pets?  Do you have a way to deal with the poo and pee if your pets must stay inside for 2 weeks?  I have a cat box for the cat, plenty of kitty litter but other than puppy training pads and storing the used pads in heavy duty trash bags,  I don’t have a good solution. At least I have small dogs so one big garbage bag should hold 14 days of poo/pee pads.
  4. Cooking food safely indoors without power:  Do you have butane burner/hot plate + fuel for heating up food. If you can boil water or heat a coffee pot you have a great little cooking system. Having 3-4 cans of butane will last for 14 days worth of meals if you are just a little frugal.  Also these are great for Tailgate parties or camping.
  5. Lights:  The dark can be scary and many people have no experience with no city lights. So test out all those battery powered lamps and flashlights.  In case of an EMP you will have to rely on candles or oil/kerosene lamps.  Make sure those lamps have oil and you have matches, lighter  or another way to light those candles or lamps.  A wooden match or Bic/zippo type lighter will light in spite an EMP as there are no electronics involved for making fire.
  6. Cleanup:  I tend to do most of my household chores on the weekend when power costs are low.  This weekend is a great time to get those chores done as quickly as possible in case the power or water gets cut off.  Get those clothes washed and dried, Clean the kitchen and bathroom while you have hot tap water for ease of cleaning.  Dust every thing and vacuum all the carpets.  If using power or water makes things easy to clean, start cleaning those area now before the (Storm) hits your home.
  7. Having Duct tape and heavy duty staple gun to  secure plastic or tarps over windows, accessible might be worth while.  This might be a good time to practice for a terrorist ‘Dirty bomb’ or chemical attack and you seal your home as much as possible.  I gave Mom most of my clear plastic sheeting but I have a lot of  thick construction grade trash bags and good tarps I could place over the windows to help seal off any dust. .
  8. Entertainment and jobs for 14 days:  Some people get a bit cranky when cut off from TV/internet or social media.  Have dice, card and board games ready for a boredom buster.  I love to read books so I have many books on hand already but I’m a throwback.  That being said I really hope my kindle or laptop survives as I have about 30 books downloaded I want to read.  People that are couped up for a couple of weeks together will get cranky so you need to have some distractions and try and give people a place of sanctuary as much as possible in a limited area.  People will have short tempers and get a bit annoying to each other.  You will have to deal with it, so plan for it.
  9. No one can stay hyper-vigilant  24/7/365 each year.  Disasters, Storms wars give you the opportunity to test your preparations for different types of disasters that may not affect you directly.  See what is happening in the world and ask yourself what would I do in the next 30 minutes if I knew it would happen to me/my family?
  10. Cash on hand: I’m not so sure of the value of cash in any disaster, but I know the value of paper and many others don’t. If you can trade bits of paper for something of value, good on you!

This sucks, as I hope to have 2 cords of wood delivered next week. I would like at least 7 days notice before we start screwing around with a nuclear power!  Perhaps it will be a “nothing burger” here in the west/USA, but we are bombing a Capital city in a country that did nothing to the USA.  We are screwing around with a country allied to Russia and the have nukes and a lot of data about EMPs and stuff.  Hell if the Norks made you edgy why would you screw with Russia?

 

What to prep for WWIII ?

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Mom asked if there were any additional or special  preps she needs to get done in the next couple of weeks with this Syria/N. Korea/Russia/China fiasco happening right now.  I thought it might be a good time for everyone to make sure they are ready or pick up any last minute items they might need or want to have on hand.

First off nukes create a lot of fear factor when they are not quite as scary as Hollywood have us believe.  For example: Pics of Detroit and Hiroshima as you can see the nuke did not make a 1000 year waste land.

Below is a link that you can use for a simulated nuke at any address. Using this simulator will give you an idea of the effects of a nuke exploding on a target.  Most Nuke targets will be High population areas for example NYC/LA,  Ports or major interstate junctions, military bases or Missile silos with nukes.

https://outrider.org/nuclear-weapons/interactive/bomb-blast

Now if you are at ground zero or within 10-15 miles of a nuke with no protection you will have a very bad day but outside of those targeted areas, surviving a nuke is very doable and you probably have most of what you need already on hand!

After the initial blast of fire and over pressure wind storm the next bomb danger to humans is radiation. There are 3 types of radiation Alpha, Beta and Gamma radiation particles.  Alpha and Beta particles while dangerous to ingest and breathe can be blocked by some thing as thin as a piece of paper. Now the Gamma radiation is the what you need lead or a lot of dirt/sand barrier for protection.  As long as your home is not compromised it will provide adequate protection from both Alpha and Beta radiation. For Gamma radiation you will want to have a basement or a bunker for earth to protect you. But if you don’t have a “bunker” move to the interior of your home and make a mini-bunker. Close off all vents and use plastic sheeting to cover windows. Of course it is not perfect but it should give you adequate protection for the first 2 weeks when you need it the most!

The first 2-3 weeks after a blast has the highest radiation sickness danger. So you will need to have plenty of safe water for drinking and cleaning plus sealed food in cans.  Pets can’t go poo outside and every one will need to stay inside for 14 days at a minimum.  Whatever you have stored in your home is what you will have to use to survive.

The additional affects after the nuke drops will probably be more dangerous and longer lasting than the bomb explosion itself.

EMP or Electro-magnetic Pulse might take out the electric grid and most electronics like smart phones, laptops, TVs and tablets.  Many new vehicles are full of electronics and may not start without replacement parts. Generators and pumps may stop working.  Literally everything from hospitals, grocery stores, railroad yards, ocean ports, nuke reactors and power plants sewer treatment plant will stop working.

Disclaimer:  I built PCs back in the early 90’s and you never touched a PC part with out an ESD (Electric Static Discharge) strap.  Now I change out PC parts without an ESD though I make sure I don’t have a static charge and the PC is completely powered down.  No one really knows how today’s technology will handle a Massive EMP blast.  If you have a bit of warning, UNPLUG all electronics before any incoming Solar storm or nuke blast. If you have a Faraday cage get your electronic inside before the blast.

So now that you are not panicked and ready to prepare for a possible nuke strike you will need Two-three weeks:

  1.  Food, water, and sanitation supplies. That means dealing trash and poo.  Construction grade garbage bags are great for handling heavy use.
  2. Shelter in staying safe from radioactive dust.  Plastic sheeting for sealing windows,  doors and vents.  Duct tape and heavy duty staplers are handy tools for this job.
  3. Energy for cooking, and staying warm or cool. Remember the Electricity is off and you can’t open a window to cool down so you will probably need more water to keep hydrated. Butane cookers are safe to use indoors and the fuel is easy to stock up.  4-6 cans of butane fuel should last a couple of weeks if you are frugal.
  4. An out door decon station. I know I said stay indoors for 2 weeks but that may not be possible.  So if you have a covered porch or patio make a small decon station with tubs for cleaning off any dust.  Have some throw away clothing or Tyvex suits that you strip off before entering your living area. Strip, sponge off and put on a robe after getting clean of any dust.  If you must go out before the 2 weeks are up.
  5. Entertainment such as books or non electronic games as there probably won’t be an internet.  Busy work such as knitting,drawing, weaving, painting or whatever can keep a person occupied mentally.
  6. Snacks such as those little fun size candy bars or crackers, chips, popcorn even soda can be a treat. One thing I noticed on Army Field exercises (FTX) people tend to crave a sugar or fat. So  have snacks of good fat like nuts of even a little chocolate can really keep up morale.
  7. Medical supplies should be very basic 1st aid types but if you have a person with a chronic condition you should try and gather extra supplies.  Insulin or someone cut off from anti- depressants could be bad. I don’t care for what I consider the over prescription of SSRIs but it is something people will have to deal with in this situation.  Heck I’m still trying to quit smoking and if I get cut off my nicotine fix I’m sure I’ll get mildly unpleasant.  Overall  if you have about a 2 week supply on hand I would try and get another 30 day supply on hand this month.

Most of this prepping for a basic disaster though the scope of interrupted power and supply lines makes a bit more long term in planning.  If you have been prepping for awhile this is no big deal except for a few tweaks.  If you live in Manhattan or mid town LA  you are probably screwed.  But most preppers don’t live in NYC or LA.

Long term I have no idea how things would work out if the USA and Russia had a nuke exchange. I know people will find away to survive and there will be a lot of empty places to be filled in. While I don’t like the thought of using someone else’s property I know I would bury my trash and sewage on an abandon home on my block before I buried trash on my property. I’m sure I’ll have to deal with some one dumping on my property as well.  It’s not right and it’s not fair but it is reality.

 

Home made dog food test

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I have been doing some research on making home made dog food and it looks very doable plus I should save money compared to buying the caned dog food in the store.  I bought some of the ‘fresh pet’ refrigerated dog food to see if my dogs would like/tolerate dog food not in a can.  This week the dogs have been eating the fresh pet food and the pups seem to like it much better than the old canned dog food.  Only one pup had an upset stomach during the change over to the new food.   So for my first batch of home made dog food I’m going to replicate the basic chicken and brown rice  recipe.  The basic ingredients to start are:

Skinless chicken breast on sale

Brown rice

Low sodium chicken broth

Frozen peas and carrots until the garden starts producing vegetables. Other dog safe veggies in 6-8% total amounts.  Green beans, broccoli, pumpkin, yams/sweet potato and berries.

Mineral supplements: until I get more bone broth made and can add some raw meaty bones to the dog’s diet.

No additional salt though I may add some dog safe herbs in the future for vitamins for the pups as I learn more about making dog food

That is the basic mix for the dog food but I will be adding a beef mix and bones as I find what works for my dogs and I learn more about dogie nutrition.  I have learned that there are a lot things you should not feed a dog.  Anything with garlic, onions or white flour is very bad for dogs.  I’m steering clear of using whole wheat for any kind of doggie food grain/carbs.  Dogs seem to have a gluten intolerance built in their DNA so easier to use other grains.  From what I have research so far on dog safe grains is White or brown rice, steel cut oat meal, whole barley and some of the other gluten free grains like quinoa or a dry feed corn.  All grains must be cooked before feeding it to your dog.  If  you have different data please let me know in the comments as I’m still a newbie at making dog food.

My goal is to feed my dogs  better than just the average canned dog food.  Make up a big batch of dog food and store it in the fridge or freezer and perhaps can the dog food for storage.  While many people say they would feed pets scraps from the table. I would have no problem eating the Dog food I’m making other than adding spices, garlic or onions.

FIY: I stayed away from adding adding salt, pepper or herbs for this recipe but even I found the new mix tasty if a little bland.  Adding a little salt and pepper after the food is done cooking should fix that bland taste.
Taste test: Brodie the big peke,  loves the chicken and rice dog food! Tucker the peke is half the size of Brodie so 1 or 2 small meals a day fills him up.  Tucker finished up the last of the “freshpet” food this morning so he might eat later.

I want to try out a beef & barley recipe, a modified beef stew and using some salmon/white rice recipes this spring.  My plan is by using several types of protein, carb and veggie mixes I will get the pups all the vitamins and minerals they need to be healthy.  Plus I will eliminate all the “fillers” and chemicals I read on the ingredient labels  on ‘wet’ dog food cans.

I may grow a few pumpkins and make a better bed for Sweet potatoes as those are dog safe veggies/carbohydrates for the doggies to eat.

I know many preppers don’t  store dog/cat food as they will feed via scraps, but I never cared for that idea as many table scraps are not good for  my pekes.  With some research I have made good tasting dog food that is darn tasty people food. I used bone-less chicken breasts (on sale) it seems that most home made dog food sites recommend using dark meat chicken and using ‘organ meats’ for the protein part of the recipe.

Overall I’m not sure this is a cheaper way to feed pets but I know the food is safe and I and the dogs like the food.  I know I do not want to eat any type of canned pet food.

So get out your slow cooker/crock pot and start making your own pet food. Make some ‘bone broth’ buy cheap cuts of meat and slow cook the veggies and carbs for you and your pets.

 

Wind warning and a few updates

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There was a wind alert for Mom’s area. Winds gusting up to 30-35 MPH  this week, but Mom said the tarp over the chicken run handled the wind with no problems.  In fact one of the old chickens even laid an egg.  I think that is one of the first eggs laid out at Mom’s new place so I take that as sign the chicks are feeling more comfortable at the new place.

I’m making up a new batch of the paraffin wax/sawdust fire starters.  Gosh I got spoiled using these fire starters.  I tried going back to  using paper and kindling is a major pain in the butt getting a fire started!  Good news is Mom had some paraffin wax in her boxes so I did not have to purchase any wax this month.  I will have a couple of egg crates of fire starters for Mom and get at least four crates done for myself to have for this month.  I have been going to the local park and picking up pine cones.  A 5 gallon bucket of pine cones and dried twigs that have dropped under pine trees tend to be very dry tinder and most park departments don’t clean up under pine trees.  I figure if I fill a couple of 5 gallon buckets every couple of weeks this summer I can have a couple of trash cans worth of pine cones/tinder before fall and firewood heating season begins this winter.

Update on the vermin problem of mice and cock roaches.  I have not caught any mice since mom moved the chicken house to her place.  I still have a few traps out along with putting out a little cat kibble outside for the cats to catch mice.  The neighborhood cats stop by occasionally for a snack and a little water but they don’t seem to be hunting mice.  It has been about 3 months and I have not seen a single roach in the house. I have cleaned up some of the DE on the counter but have left some DE in the cabinets for residual protection.  At this point I’d say I’m at maintenance level against vermin rather than trying to eliminate an infestation.

Overall I can’t say I was all that impressed with the exterminator.  Don’t get me wrong I think the exterminator did the job just fine. It’s just the nature of vermin to look for an easy meal and you have to be pro-active in stopping them from getting that easy meal.  One thing I never considered about cockroaches is my kitchen plumbing traps.  Pipes collect grease and food debris as well as trap water.  Those pipes are like a cockroach buffet!  Drain plugs and screens are a great way to block off that cockroach buffet.

I want to start incorporating  the use of small amounts of solar energy and lighting daily.  That means using some of those solar camp lights as night lights. Testing out battery packs and recharging stuff like the cell phone and kindle via small solar panels.  I can’t afford to go full solar power but if I can stay below 750 Kwh per month I will save a lot of money on my electric bill.  Where I am there are off peak hours electric use is the weekend and between 9:00 pm and 6 am  week days, so if the solar can’t charge during a cloudy day I can charge the battery pack during off peak hours and charge my gadget whenever it needs a boost.  I’m taking advantage of the new windows for daylight and trying to keep my light usage to just at night.  I have installed LED Light bulbs and I think you should use power when yo need it for a job, but often I would leave a light on just because and not because I needed it for doing some thing specific.  So far it seems to be making a difference in my power costs.

Moving wood and garden building supplies bouught

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Mom and I split another load of mill ends.  So Mom’s truck got loaded yesterday and I finished getting my mill ends stacked today.  I figure another full load of mill ends should give me about 2/3’s of a cord of mill ends.  I’m undecided if I want buy one more full load so I have a full cord  of mill ends on hand.  Last year Mom ended up in charge of the wood stove since she is more sensitive to feeling cold.  She really like starting a little fire of the mill ends when she woke up at 0 dark thirty just to warm the house up in the fall.  I wake up later so the house didn’t seem as cold to me in the AM.  Plus I tend to prefer a cooler house compared to Mom.  I suppose I’ll make that decision in June or July after I get the Doug fir delivered and stacked.

I’m very excited about getting the two cords of wood delivered mid-April.  I have cleared one wood rack and have started clearing out the second rack.  Moving the wood is taking a little longer than I first anticipated because I’m trying to have a good mix of wood accessible in each rack.  I’m cutting  the older wood to size for kindling. I’d like to fill a small rack (6ft. x 4ft.) that is  just kindling. I’m having to cut down or split some of the older chunks that were to big to burn in my wood stove.  Both of these jobs are easier in Spring/Fall when the weather is nice.

I got the lumber for framing the first two garden beds. The 2 x 6 x 10 foot boards cost just under $10.00 each. I was able to save on the 2 x 4  corner post cost, as I have plenty of mill ends that are in the 12 inch to 18 inch range.  If you want to do this sort of raised bed  garden I’d budget at least $100.00 for the cost of  lumber and soil for two raised beds.  I got a few bags of soil and manure to fill up the raised beds as needed.  I have used this mix for other raised beds and last year Mom had it tested via her Master Gardeners course.  I roto-till  this Bagged soil with the natural soil and it test out to be nearly ph neutral with plenty of minerals.  Speaking just for myself, once you get ph neutral then it is easier to add supplements for individual plants.

I still have plenty of yard clean up to get done! from cleaning up deadwood, to pruning my fruit trees.  I think my little roto- tiller has a few hours worth of work on the new garden beds as well as working the “chicken run” crusted chicken residue back into the soil.  Once I remove a small tree, clean up the chicken residue and a small tree I might get the hard side green house set up this summer. The green house might help extend the Fall growing season this year.  Honestly the green house will be next to my shop and I could heat it year round.  I’m not sure about the trade off costs of electricity and vegetables  at this time.  Probably no worse than heating the chicken house for eggs last winter.

Once the dead tree is removed I’ll see about setting up the green house.  I may have to move the compost bins and level the ground.

I’d like to remind you all that have been prepping along with me.  Don’t forget to stock up once things change or settle down in your life.  Having Mom live with me was great but I also used up some prepped items because money was tight.  A few stitches here or a  major surgery for a pet can really hurt your cash flow.  These things happen and you just have to roll with that “Emergency Cash Fund/Savings” getting used from time to time.  I mean that it is why you have an Emergency Cash Fund.  Don’t make the mistake I did. Emergency funds and Savings funds should be kept separate.  I know that is not always possible but I treated Emergency savings and regular saving as the same thing, they are not the same.  When building the emergency fund go heavy starting out but at least put a little bit into your savings fund.  As you build up the Emergency fund start moving more cash into your savings fund.   At least that is what I’m working on.

Last but not least I got my big bathroom shower head working again!  We have very hard water and Lime/hard water scale can build up very quick.  That is not usually a problem with faucets as you work the internal parts regularly.  Well I do not use the big bathroom shower head regularly and the bypass “latch/valve ” froze up because of hard water scale.  A couple of treatments of CLR remover and using pliers to move the shower switch valve. ( Switch/plunger) wrapped in cloth so not to damage the finish and now my shower head works again!  Not to knock plumbers as the ones I have had do jobs are great but I bet they hate doing stupid/simple jobs.  Goodness knows I hated doing PC repairs that took only connecting a cord or updating drivers or restarting a PC/router/printer.  Now that I know the hard water can clog the switch/transfer valve. I’ll go back to using it at least weekly to spray down the tub after cleaning.

Fire wood ordered and Solar energy for Mom’s shops

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Last years scramble taught me to get my fire wood early. The company that delivered a cord of pine fire wood last November, called back  for two cords of Douglas Fir to be delivered mid April.  I really like this company because they are very honest about the quality of wood plus they deliver a full cord of 4 ft. x 4 ft. by 8 ft. cord! Douglas Fir is a great fire wood to burn as it is easy to split, burns a long time for a soft wood and is available in the Western USA.  We don’t have hardwood forests like the eastern part of the USA but we have a lot of pine and fir forests.

Mom is going to this company and get a 1/2 cord of lodgepole pine she can load in the 1 ton dually rather than have them charge her for delivery.  What is nice is the company will measure out a 1/2 cord and then she hauls it away.  The pine is a cheaper than the Douglas fir and this is a good way for Mom to start building her fire wood stack.  A few months of hot summer weather will season the wood to burn this winter.

I’m still getting small loads the mill ends delivered.  This is great fire wood for starting a fire and building a quick fire to warm up the house in spring and fall.  My plan is to get a full cord of the mill ends bought and stacked by June.  I’ll have another small pickup load of the mill ends coming this week that Mom and I will split between us.  My plan is to make monthly purchases so I have one cord of mill ends before June.  Buying through the spring months will help the cash flow of these wood cutters/businesses and be one less worry for me going into winter.

I’m moving around the older wood to the close to home wood racks.  What I want is empty wood racks where I receive new firewood to stack.  I have quite a bit of wood in the racks that is seasoned ready to burn in the racks. Two cords of Douglass fir will probably max out my wood racks and I’ll have a bit of overflow of wood.  Not a problem as that just gives the wood more time to dry/season.  As a disabled/handicap prepper I can’t just go out and cut wood, so I need to stock up.

I’m not sure I can swing it financially but I want to add some fruit wood and another two cords of Douglas fir to my preps/wood pile. Since Mom moved the “chicken house” to her place.  I have a large carport area for wood storage while still having covered parking available.  If you can’t gather your own firewood start buying fire wood early and beat the crowds that buy firewood in the fall.  Buying wood early gives the wood additional time to season and dry so it burns clean. Get that chimney sweep in during the summer to clean and you might get a discount as summer is the “slow” season for chimney sweeps.

I talked to Mom about going Solar powered for her shops because she can’t afford to put in a power line.  She has a great area for southern exposure and most of the panels and a small solar battery bank/generator to try solar energy.  Perhaps she can only run a few LED lights, but it would be a good test of solar energy potential for the future.  Since Mom can’t afford to run a power pole or electric lines we might as well try out solar energy as she has the panels and a small solar generator.  If it fails we have lost nothing but some time and effort.  If it works we have a great back up energy source.

There is a lot to do. I can’t say it will be fun but it will be interesting.  Stay focused on your goals. Food to eat, warmth in your home, safe water to drink. That is the the basics, after that is about working to be comfortable.

Everything is simple.  It is just the simple thing are hard/ not easy.

Chicken wire and tarp is up over the Chicken run. Huzzah!

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There was almost no wind at Mom’s place this afternoon so we could finally could get the chicken wire and tarp installed on top of the kennel Mom uses as the chicken run.

I screwed together two 2 x 4 inch pressure treated boards as a center post then using fencing bracket attaching five foot long 2 x 4s to support the chicken wire and keep the center post upright.  We then cut 10 foot long sections of wire and laid them on top of the kennel and supporting boards.  To secure the wire we used Zip ties along the metal frame and stapled the wire to the 2 x 4 cross braces.

Overall this job was a lot easier compared to shoving boards under the wire to support the wire under a snow load.  The wire is tight and is not sagging at all.  The way I attached the Cross members will be easy to break down or Mom could buy additional 2 x 4s to complete framing the top of the kennel if she wants that done in the future.

There were a few places that we used duct tape on both sides of the tarp to repair some holes that had been worn in the 16 x 12 foot tarp. Putting up the tarp was very easy!  The long side of the tarp went on the side of the kennel that seems to get the most wind. As another wind break and hopefully will help keep the wind from getting under the tarp and making it a sail.  Mom used bungee cords to hold the tarp so the tarp has a little give to flex with the wind. The center post will keep most of the tarp off the wire and help shed any water or snow that could build up.  As taut as the tarp is now, I suspect the wind will keep most water and snow from building up on the tarp.

I removed all the “landscape timbers” around my big garden bed and hauled them to Mom’s place. I will be setting up stakes to plot out the new garden beds for my place.  Using the mill ends 2 x 4’s for support/corner posts is shaping up nicely and will save me money.  I won’t have to buy 8 foot long 2 x 4 and cut them up for the garden beds.  I have building up good soil so I will get started with 2 of the beds and see how much garden soil will be need after the first couple of beds are complete.  I’ll also need more mulch for pathways between the beds.

The new beds will have a north south orientation rather than east west so that will affect how I plant the garden.   It is exciting to try out these new garden beds.  I know I can grow stuff now I need a way to grow stuff that is a bit more controlled and easier to harvest. Hopefully more but smaller raised beds will work for me.

Gardens are a lot like money. It’s not about how much you grow/make.  It’s about how much you use and preserve/keep each year.

I have visiting the Gutenberg library online and the have a great collection of not only old books but videos and even old computer software.  The books are an easy download to kindle and if not go to Amazons free library section.  I have several of Mark Twain’s books, downloaded Tolstoy’s essays as well as some more modern SCi-Fi from the Baen free library of people like John Ringo and David Weber.  I am a firm believer  in reading all sorts of books. Though I’m not a big fan of “romance” novels but bodice ripping is a popular theme of many sci-fi novels at least as a subplot.

What I have in my little kindle could have bought and sold kingdoms in the Renaissance not to mention the Medieval period.  Read a “Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”.  It was enlightening to me. It had time travel, politics, education, labor rights and several takes of how well a modernist could influence a serf society.  History often has people that make a splash in time. It is the ripples that the average people feel that often affect society the most!

 

 

Garden supplies, mill ends and daffodils

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I picked up and paid for the Gardening supplies from the Church that held the gardening class.  One of the garden gals was nice enough to stop by after work so I could pick up and pay for the supplies. I got a lot of the plant protective fabric, some netting for climbing plants and some fish compost to try out on a couple of beds as well as getting my compost bins cooking again.

I sort of started my “finished” compost bin layout. I don’t think I’ll have to buy many concrete blocks to complete the walls of that bin.  Right now it looks like Lowe’s has the best deal for hardware cloth for that bin to sift the compost.  I was a little surprised because Lowe’s and Home Depot tend to have prices about the same but in my area you can get 10 feet of hardware cloth at Lowes for about the same price that Home depot charges for 5 feet of the same cloth.   Now,  Home Depot has the lumber I need and I much prefer the products for wood mulch and soil for garden beds.   This is why I love comparison shopping on the internet. You can get your shopping list all set up before leaving the house and make your money stretch a bit farther.

I got the deliver of mill ends today and I asked the guy if I could get some longer pieces of wood. Well that has worked out great as I got quite a few 2 x 4’s  in about 18 inch lengths.   That means I can use those 2 x 4’s as my raised bed garden posts and NOT cut up the 8 foot long into 1 foot sections.  Lumber prices seem to be coming down a little but if I can use scrap lumber for short braces for my new garden beds I’ll take it!

Speaking of the mill ends.  Mom showed up with the truck and we loaded about half of the mill ends and some chunks of firewood in it.  We want to get another load next week and split it between us.  While some people heat only with mill ends I prefer having a mix of wood through winter.  I have to say that mill ends seem to be a great Fall or early Spring fire wood as you get a quick fire to take the chill off the house but you don’t need to burn a fire all day/all night long.   Plus mill ends are easy to cut or split if you need kindling.   Last but not least I gave Mom a round of Maple for her chopping stump/block. If you have ever chopped wood  and buried your ax in dirt or had a chunk of bury itself in dirt like a very fat tent stake you know the value of a chunk of wood that will offer some resistance to the ax/maul and keep the edge of the ax/maul blade safe from getting chipped or dinged up.  My latest project for wood cutting is building a small “Saw buck” to hold chunks of wood while we use the chain saws to cut the wood to fit our wood stoves.

In the flower garden the little daffodils have already flowered!  The roses are putting out buds and the holly berries are starting to form. One of my neighbors had an ornamental fruit tree explode into blossoms.  Bad news, we are looking at 29 degrees F. temps this week. Good news is we are in the city so there is a “heat island” effect plus we are some what protected from cold winds.  Daffodils and pansies look delicate but both plants are very hardy.  My Irises and tulips are putting on a lot of green in the flower beds.  Hopefully this will be a light frost and all plants and the orchards can get good production even with Spring being a little flaky this year.

Mill ends, kindling and electric bill lower

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I had a couple of loads of mill ends delivered last fall and it was darn good for starting a quick fire in the wood stove.  The wood delivered was great and the price was awesome so I have ordered the the first of many loads of the mill ends for myself and give some to Mom for her stove.  When you heat with wood but are not physically capable of cutting down your own fire wood you often have to take what you can find.  When you find a good wood supplier they become as valued as gold or diamonds, at least to me.

Right now I’m at the end of the “wood burning” season but it can still get a bit cool overnight so having a fire burning overnight and wood coals in the morning is nice even if all I do is toss a few chunks of wood to make the house comfy for me is worth starting a fire.  While pine is not the most BTU dense wood it makes great kindling.

I still have a lot of pine wood that is now seasoned and I split a few chunks I had on hand.  OMG the pine was so easy to split with my ax!  While the pine kindling does not hold fire as long as maple, it does hold fire long enough to ignite fruit woods like apple and cherry.  Pine seems to make a great firewood if you just need to warm a house fast but don’t need a long burning fire for all day or overnight.  There is no perfect wood for burning, though Red/Douglas fir seems to be a good all around wood for easy to split and burns a long time for a soft wood. I think I got white maple and that seems like an easy to start wood that also burns a long time.  Remember wood is location specific.  In the west we have mostly soft woods, you all back east have hardwoods.  What wood you burn will depend on where you live.

My electric bill has dropped a lot this month and next month it is forecasted to get much lower.  That is is expected as Spring and fall are my lowest electrical cost months.  It seems with the new windows I have a lot more natural light and with the insulation and siding the house is holding in more heat overnight.  With summer coming I’ll have plenty of natural light with the new windows, will my cooling costs be lower is the question.

I am going to buy the stuff for a new raised bed garden system.  I have already bought many of the components for drip irrigation though I’ll need to invest in lumber for the new raised beds and lumber is not cheap. Mom will get my landscaping timbers for her place so the original garden is not a loss. I’ll have to watch Tucker the pekes digging but he seldom digs in 8 inch or higher beds.  So 10 inch beds may be the pet proof sweet spot as long as Tucker has other places to dig.  The church ladies were super nice to set aside my order for gardening stuff until I could pay for it.

Overall I think I’m going to have a productive week.   I’ll have to do physical work in 2-3 hour chunks with rest breaks but what I want to get done by the end of March should be very doable for me.

People that are close to 100% physically that work a job of care for a home and kids are actually darn close to me for leftover physical energy to devote to a job at your home.   I see those that don’t do offer suggestions about why don’t you do….  I’ll tell you we don’t have the time or money to do…. what you say.  I spent about 5 years of my life buying a wood stove, crunching the numbers and bought cheap wood a year before I bought a wood stove, I did not have to feed every 2-4 hours.

I just have a city lot and want to grow some food and preserve it.  I have to live cheap because I can’t afford to live expensive.  I can’t go totally green, organic and other nonsense  because I can’t afford it.  All I can do is the best I can.

Gardening class today

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Finished up the last of the gardening classes and got some great info on when to start seeds indoors and some composting info.  Starting the seeds is easy if not simple because timing is everything.  Having folks that grow a large garden and have the timing down for the local area is a huge help to me.  Also these ladies have jobs and personal gardens along with volunteering at the “Church” garden.  They don’t stress turning a compost pile, weeding, watering or daily working in a garden because they have jobs, lives and families. Yet the church garden produced over 4000 pounds of fresh produce for local food banks and they kept up their own gardens, compost piles and daily lives.   If gardening is your life that is great, but I want gardening to be a part of my life,  not my whole life.

I have budgeted a new raised bed garden set up based on what I have learned and over all I have a solid if not perfect base to build upon.  I’m excited to start a concrete block compost bin setup with hardware cloth to “strain” out the usable compost from my bins.  I already have the blocks on hand so the only cost will be the hardware cloth, time and physical energy. As I have read about composting it was a daily thing.  Not so much according to these gardening ladies.  Turning the compost once a week or even twice a month is okay.  No, your compost won’t break down as quickly but that is not a bad thing when you focus on Spring and Fall feeding of a garden.

I will have to set out stakes for getting all the dimensions of the new garden beds built that replaces my large garden bed.  What is nice is all of my old landscaping timbers can go to Mom’s place and help her define her landscaping  areas.

One thing I can say is I’m not a big fan of straw as mulch but it does seem great at make a brick like layer when mixed with the local clay/alkali soil. Straw mixed with chicken poo can be great in a compost heap or in a garden but scraping up those dense layers after 3 years of having a chicken house is not fun.

The plan of attack for next week is to clean up the chicken pen/house remnants.  Build a concrete brick box for finished compost. Stake out the area for the new raised beds and get the materials to build the new beds. Start pruning the trees around my house.  With my copious free time/ physical energy,  I need to help Mom install some big curtain rods, predator proof her chicken run and help her move stuff from my shop to her shops.

Everything we have to get done is very simple, but that does not mean it will be easy.  Monday looks like a low wind day and Mom is coming into town so we can load up the Kia with some furniture Mom wants at her place and get at the chicken run predator proofed with chicken wire.

One last FYI on how warm the house is staying.  I’m sure it both the addition of vinyl siding + insulation but the biggest difference is good windows. I believed the new windows has made a difference in heating the house because the back part of the house regularly hits the upper 70’s just using wood heat.  The house holds heat much better over night especially on windy days or nights. The summer test will be interesting because I don’t have to install a window A/C unit in her room.  My plan is use just one window unit in my bedroom this summer for keeping cool to sleep and use fans to cool the rest of the house this summer.  I’ll set up the large portable A/C in case it is needed but I hope with the new windows and siding last fall,  the house will stay cooler this summer.

Lots of new and things happening as Mom has a bunker to replace the basement.  Perhaps not a bunker but a really good size storm shelter/ root cellar.  I have no idea how things will work out but it should be fun to try out new things and see how they work out. Speaking for myself I find many projects can seem overwhelming at first but once you start breaking them down into small size chunks daily or weekly.  Those tasks seem a lot more manageable.

Such as: This week start snow peas

Next week start broccoli, cabbages and maybe some micro-greens.  Prepare garden beds.   Just a bunch of simple steps to take, if not all of them are not easy or cheap.

Windy at Mom’s place this week.

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The wind was blowing so hard at Mom’s place it was rocking the Kia mini-van back and forth when it was parked!  So we did not get the tarp and wire up on the chicken pen.  I did get a few of jobs done inside of of the house.  I’m hoping we get a few days of less wind so we can finish up the chickens pen/run. Eventually we hope to get some of the seed from  Holly bushes I have in my yard and start making a few windbreaks out in Mom pasture.  Mom has a few starts on a couple of trees that will provide shade eventually.  A good thing about my holly is does not need the great soil to start growing.

Mom’s new cable modem/router is installed so she won’t have to pay the monthly rental fee to cable company for a modem.  We got a Netgear C3700 wireless cable modem for $43.00 from newegg.com and it was simple to set up if you are used to working with routers and modems.  I just plugged in the modem, set up the basic home Wireless LAN and then called Cableone to activate the internet.  I have to say for an all in one cable modem/wireless router the Netgear does the job at a great price.  I still need to setup Mom’s kindle and Roku to connect to the internet but that should be simple sit down job at her place.

Mom and I finagled one more set of blinds into place.  One of the brackets got broken and so I had to make do on with a bracket I had on hand.  This replacement bracket is not holding the blind in place securely so it will need to be replaced once the money is available. Mom had some great blinds she got at a yard sale but the windows in her house are all goofy sizes so of course the did not fit.  The house has a freaking huge window that is over a 100+ inches wide that has posed a challenge for hanging a curtain rod.  Mom has a track curtain rod that will fit but I have never hung one of those rods and all the hanging parts are in a bag with no instructions.  Thank goodness for youtube because I found a vid that shows how to install those rods, plus how to place the hooks in the bracket to help insulate the window and block out light.  Now all I have to do is make sure we have all the parts, test fit the rod to the brackets and if that works we can install the rod and Mom will have a bit of privacy and the curtains will help insulate the windows.

We are getting stuff done but when have about 3-4 hours of physical energy and a 30 minute one way commute along with all those household chores of cleaning, firewood, animals and lack of money can make the progress of jobs getting done, seems a little slow and frustrating. Once we get stuff organized and can start building stuff for the future we will feel a a lot more positive about how things are going.  Right now we are stuck on seeing all the things we can’t get done rather than seeing all that we have done.

Hell we can choose to use any good wood we find and burn or trash any bad wood around Mom’s place.  I bought a gallon of chainsaw oil and gave Mom about 12 oz. for her small chain saw.  If we go all out we will cut that little pile of wood in under an hour.  If the wood does not look like it is full of nails so it it will be good for burning but we hope to reuse it.

At Mom’s place there is a lot of wood stacked and we don’t know if it usable for projects or it just needs to be turned into firewood or sent to a landfill. We need to see what we can salvage and what needs to get trash. I want to get Mom at least a couple of raised beds started at her place if only to start improving the soil via as a modified compost bin to add organic matter to the abused soil.
Gosh the only soil we have worked with is the stuff filled with trash.  I did try and stake stuff in the pasture and the dirt is harder than the back of God’s head that does not mean all the soil is that dense/hard.  Never add sand to clay soil or you will end up with a bad version of concrete.  Heck I screwed up improving my soil adding sand to clay soil before listening to some people, then I started using wood mulch paths rather than concrete walkways and started building up the soil with organic matter. At least now I know a little bit about building raised beds, soil and water management.  Now the problem is the lack of funds to getting gardens started at both houses.

I will be building a new sort of raised bed to maximize food growth rather than ease of use.  But It may well work out to be an easy to work garden.  I figure I’ll need to invest a couple of hundred dollars on this new raised bed system but I should get a longer growing season and more output this year.  Mom is going to help with my beds and we will start on building her raised beds, compost bin and building soil this year.  Mom will do some container gardening and start prepping her land for next year.

Any sort of gardening takes planning, preparation, physical work and time.  I despise straw mulch as it does not break down in a year in the garden, but I love wood mulch pathways and using wood mulch to eliminate weeds in the alley way garden that has very poor soil.  It is not that straw mulch is bad it simply is not the best choice for my type of gardening.

TL: DR we are building raised beds eventually.

 

Trying to order more fire wood

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If you heat with firewood and don’t cut the wood yourself you must be proactive and get your wood as early as possible.  While I skated by this last season I was a bit panicked about having enough wood on hand after the winter of 2016/2017.  That has become my “worst case scenario”.  While I was not fond of the kiln dried pine wood as it sucked up moisture like a sponge as it dried it was not a bad wood to burn.  While not a long lasting burn, the pine was easy to start a fire and it burned hot and fast.  So the pine started longer burning wood and eliminated any chill to the house once the fire was started in the wood stove.

Here in the west Douglas fir is the go to fire wood but getting it cut, split and delivered is a challenge.  For hardwoods we sort of depend on the cuttings of Fruit trees like apple and cherry wood.  If you have a wood stove in the west and you don’t cut your own firewood get a good supplier on speed dial.  If you start early you will get the best wood and not have to worry when October/November rolls around.  Build a few simple wood racks and any wood you don’t use this year has another few months to season and dry.

Now there are no below 0 F. temps and I can start a fire in the AM if it is brisk along with starting a fire at night that heats up the house over night.  With the new easy to use fire starters getting a morning fire started in the AM is darn simple if not always easy.  With the new windows and the insulated vinyl siding installed, the house holds heat this winter. I don’t really have to “bank” the fire any more at night.  Just warm up the house and at worst it might get as cold as 64 degrees F. in the back part of the house.  Fire up the wood stove and it hit 70 degrees F. in an hour.

Now that Mom has her own home.  I can work on cutting down my electric bill/load again. If I can get below Idaho power’s break point of the lowest tier user I can save a ton of money .  I tend to be a night owl so I may set the timer for the A/C unit to turn on after 9 PM when electric rates are cheaper.

A G class solar flare is nothing

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Please go to space weather news and get daily updates http://spaceweathernews.com/  A G class flare is about as small as you can get for a solar flare.  No it will not knock out the satellites, I’m not even sure the operators will turn off the sats for such a minor solar flare.

Solar flares have a rank system and a G type flare is at the lowest level.  A M type flare is a bit higher warning level and may affect some radio communications and satellites. An X class flare in the 7-9 level is a reason to get stuff in a faraday cage.

The reporters got all “twitterpated” and the G class flare will not drop the Aurora Borealis  deep into the lower 48 states.  This is a nothing burger!

Educate yourself and follow solar weather because the Sun does have an effect on the Earth. But don’t buy into the MSM panic and clickbait.

If you see the the Northern lights in Florida Some PC’s might be killed.  Honestly we don’t know how susceptible system are to EMP. When I started building PC’s for fun back in the 90’s you need an ESD/ Electrostatic Discharge strap just for basic static discharge. Now I can build a PC without a discharge strap and play pluck and chuck with cards as long as I power down a PC.

While I don’t want to to take anything for granted.  I know my PC’s and laptops have survived X class flares in the past.  Could a “Carrington Event” happen?  Of course but we have a lot more eyes on the sun than we had in 1859.  Plan , prep and get good info. If that sort of flare happen you will have at least a few hours to safe guard your electronics.

I deconstructed Mom’s bird shed.

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This was not a chicken house but it is a very very heavy, make do for a chicken house.  I’m  no carpenter but even I can see this “big box” was not built to last long term.  Some of the framing is rotted but the plywood seems to be solid so we have materials to make a new chicken isolation/ large box for Mom’s chickens.  I guess in a way,  I’m scavenging used materials in order to make a new chicken “shed” at Mom’s place.  We have a small chicken house to move built with really crappy laminated wood that costs a lot of money to buy but does not last long.  With some luck we might be able to move this house but I’m not hopeful as ripped off some of the structural base boards because of wood rot just moving the house.  I’m not all that impressed with most pre-fab chicken houses.

Right now we have to get both the tarp up and the chicken wire on top of the chicken run/kennel as Mom is seeing hawks circling her chicken pen.  I don’t blame the hawks as predators they are looking for an easy meal.  I just don’t want Mom’s birds to provide that easy meal to hawks.  The hawks can get the little birds, doves and pigeons attracted by the grain and free meals those birds get.  We just want to make sure the chickens are happy and protected.

At this point in the Mom move process I think we will have most of the furniture moved to her place.  Placing the furniture is a bit more difficult. Most of Mom’s prep supplies can be moved to her Bunker once we clean it out, add a new door and see how to protect the food from critters.  Like many people that buy a house/home there are many challenges and you have to prioritize what you can get done.

Update on replacing the storm door hardware.  Overall it has worked out great but I noticed the new hardware does not have a positive click when the door closes.  This is a very minor issue but has been noticed by me.  One thing I really like is the new storm door hardware is much more substantial compare to the old storm door hardware.  While I have no illusions about added security, I know the wind is not going to rip off the door and hardware when facing a stiff breeze.

The plan of attack for Monday is move the chicken “boxes” the green house garden shelf and place the chicken wire and tarp over the chicken pen along with adding the smaller boxes for introducing new birds to the flock.  Well at least get up the tarp and protective chicken wire.  Re-building the boxes might not happen right away.   LOL

 

Mom has one dresser for clothes!

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The weather here is looking a lot like early spring.  We are getting some snow, rain and very windy days as the fronts move through the area.  Today was in the 50’s F. with a few sprinkles but it did not matter as Mom and I loaded the dresser in the Kia yesterday.  It was easy just add a few odds and ends around the dresser and take a load out to Mom’s place.

I brought out a few more chunks of wood for Mom to burn along with building the start of a small wood rack for her front porch with some 2 x 4 scraps I had laying around my place.  The wood rack is just a “base” for her to stack some wood that is easy to grab for the stove rather than having to cut up firewood or those little bundles of wood for camping.  Since the wood rack base is small and easy to move she can find the best spot for it out of the rain or snow.  Once she finds the spot where she wants it to be then we can finish adding the uprights and see if it needs to be covered with a tarp or solid top.

While I was out at Mom’s place I hung a bathroom mirror and a small medicine cabinet.  I showed Mom how to use dry wall anchors but I did not bring a level so the mirror is just a little bit crooked. I hope Mom’s OCD can deal with the mirror being just a little bit tilted. The medicine cabinet installation actually looks good though there was much wailing, cursing and gnashing of teeth placing it in such a tight space to work in the bathroom.  Now Mom has some storage shelves to put her vitamins in her bathroom.

Mom is missing having a basement and big shop to store stuff.  But the has another insulated shop to store stuff and a bunker that we have not fully explored.  But the house is small at 900 sq. ft. and when you are used to living in a larger space, downsizing can be a challenge.  I have to say even with the terrible/ old single pane windows Mom’s house stays super warm and cozy with the small wood stove.  If Mom can get the crawl space insulated and replace the windows via the local electric company via “Energy Conservation” she will be set for very low power bills.

Now for what I’ve been doing….  Well I’m baking bread again and trying to make better meals for myself and not eating so much processed foods.  I’m having to learn how to do all those household chores that Mom used to do weekly.  Mom is finding out grocery shopping is darn expensive.  My cost of living has gone down by about 20% so I’m good.  Mom’s costs have gone up a bit but she will be okay once she has a couple of months to work a budget.

Good news,  I can pay the house payment on time and not get a mid month penalty. While I could use credit I prefer not to unless I can pay a card off in a month.  Not too bad a disabled vet on disability paying a $700.00 vet bill in a month.  With some luck I won’t have any more bills over 1/2 or more of my monthly income. I need a couple of months to start build savings again.

TL;DR We are good and the chicken run are going to get some upgrades along with Mom’s woodpile. Hopefully I’ll set up Mom’s network and cable one won’t get any modem rent money from Mom.

It’s not perfect but slowly we are working to make stuff good enough.

Mom has one dresser for clothes!

The weather here is looking a lot like early spring.  We are getting some snow, rain and very windy days as the fronts move through the area.  Today was in the 50’s F. with a few sprinkles but it did not matter as Mom and I loaded the dresser in the Kia yesterday.  It was easy just add a few odds and ends around the dresser and take a load out to Mom’s place.

I brought out a few more chunks of wood for Mom to burn along with building the start of a small wood rack for her front porch with some 2 x 4 scraps I had laying around my place.  The wood rack is just a “base” for her to stack some wood that is easy to grab for the stove rather than having to cut up firewood or those little bundles of wood for camping.  Since the wood rack base is small and easy to move she can find the best spot for it out of the rain or snow.  Once she finds the spot where she wants it to be then we can finish adding the uprights and see if it needs to be covered with a tarp or solid top.

While I was out at Mom’s place I hung a bathroom mirror and a small medicine cabinet.  I showed Mom how to use dry wall anchors but I did not bring a level so the mirror is just a little bit crooked. I hope Mom’s OCD can deal with the mirror being just a little bit tilted. The medicine cabinet installation actually looks good though there was much wailing, cursing and gnashing of teeth placing it in such a tight space to work in the bathroom.  Now Mom has some storage shelves to put her vitamins in her bathroom.

Mom is missing having a basement and big shop to store stuff.  But the has another insulated shop to store stuff and a bunker that we have not fully explored.  But the house is small at 900 sq. ft. and when you are used to living in a larger space, downsizing can be a challenge.  I have to say even with the terrible/ old single pane windows Mom’s house stays super warm and cozy with the small wood stove.  If Mom can get the crawl space insulated and replace the windows via the local electric company via “Energy Conservation” she will be set for very low power bills.

Now for what I’ve been doing….  Well I’m baking bread again and trying to make better meals for myself and not eating so much processed foods.  I’m having to learn how to do all those household chores that Mom used to do weekly.  Mom is finding out grocery shopping is darn expensive.  My cost of living has gone down by about 20% so I’m good.  Mom’s costs have gone up a bit but she will be okay once she has a couple of months to work a budget.

Good news,  I can pay the house payment on time and not get a mid month penalty. While I could use credit I prefer not to unless I can pay a card off in a month.  Not too bad a disabled vet on disability paying a $700.00 vet bill in a month.  With some luck I won’t have any more bills over 1/2 or more of my monthly income. I need a couple of months to start build savings again.

TL;DR We are good and the chicken run are going to get some upgrades along with Mom’s woodpile. Hopefully I’ll set up Mom’s network and cable one won’t get any modem rent money from Mom.

It’s not perfect but slowly we are working to make stuff good enough.

Puttering around the house SNOW DAYS!

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Actually the little bit of snow we got both days melted by the afternoon, but it was great for recovery and getting some of the house cleaned up. I’m still getting used to the fact of how many jobs Mom did around the house from bringing in wood to cleaning the big bathroom and washing down the kitchen every week or two.  I miss having a couple of extra hands available when I needed them on getting jobs done.

Mom usually carried in the wood by hand when filling the wood rack. Basically Mom did smaller loads daily and I do larger loads every 2-3 days. I got in a couple loads of wood on the porch wood rack before the snow hit.  Hauling a wagon load of wood through even a couple of inches of snow sucks.  I have a small toboggan but I did not test how it hauled wood in light snow.  One thing I like about using the wagon as I can get a better mix of wood because I can fill the wagon with one section from the wood rack and get to the lower layer of older hardwoods from last year.  Stacking next year’s wood pile I will fill the racks by type of wood so I’ll have a rack of all hard wood or all soft wood.

Other than that I just got the house cleaned up and started baking bread again.  Money got a little tight so I had to stop buying the day old bagels on sale.  The first batch of bread did not get mixed completely and I ended up with a couple of salty areas in the loaves and just a little bit doughy from not being baked all the way through but I always figure it takes a a couple of tries when baking bread after not doing it for awhile.  The second batch turned out almost perfect so I’m get the feel for how to bake bread again.

The great thing about having a fully stocked pantry is when money get a little tight you always have the pantry to fall back on. I still hope I can recover in one month from Tucker’s $700.00 vet bill in a month but if it takes a couple of months I’m good with that happening.  I want to get my Kia a trailer hitch and buy a small cargo trailer as a cheap alternative to buying a pickup. I want to build at least one raised bed using the plans from the garden class I am taking.  Last but not least I want to start building some raised beds for Mom at her place. I’m not sure we can get the beds done this year but I know for sure we can start and the beds will be ready for next year’s garden.

Like most people we have many plans of what we want to do and a limited amount of physical energy and money to try and get those jobs done.  One thing Mom and I agree on is physically killing ourselves trying to get all her stuff move to her house via a deadline is a bad idea.  We are slowing down moving stuff and since we have no storage fees to worry about, we can take our time.  The priorities are getting the chickens secured from predators and getting curtains and blinds up in the house so Mom does not feel like she is living in a fish bowl.

A lovely day!

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Almost 50 degrees F. no wind or rain, Love it!  Moving out the chicken house and run has left a bit of a mess of things we use to keep the chickens protected but did not move to Mom’s new place.  I busted up the old plastic roof sheeting and got it in the garbage can.  It was so brittle breaking it up by hand was an easy job.  Don’t get me wrong that the sheets are a bad product as I re-purposed it after it covered a neighbors patio for over 10 years ( that I know of) before I got the use of the panels.

I’m building a trash pile for the future of stuff from the back yard.   Sad to say the old chicken wire will not be re-used as it is over a decade old and was not installed very well when it was new.  I have an idea to install the wire so it both effective and somewhat protected in the high wind environment that Mom is living in.  We will build a basic frame work for the chicken wire to attach too, and the protective weather tarp will have a center pole (like a tent) to rest on.  My hope is the by having the Chicken wire frame below the tarp the wind will not shred the tarp in high winds still still protecting the chickens from predators.  I’ve been going through my shop and I stocked up better than I had expected when lumber prices were so low last summer.

OMG! I made a few wood fire starter out of saw dust, cardboard egg cartons and some paraffin wax and the fire starter worked amazingly awesome.  Gosh the fire-starter was like a freaking blow torch of flame lighting up the wood.  Now I’m still experimenting so my process is still in the learning phase.  The recipe so far is:

Egg cartons made from thick cardboard:  Getting cardboard egg cartons is standard at most mega marts.  Don’t use the Styrofoam egg cartons for fire starters.  Paraffin wax, often found in the canning section of you local grocery store next to canning jars.  Saw dust/ wood chips, I cut wood and have been given the saw dust from my local firewood supplier.  You can also buy would chips at local farm and most pet stores.

You need to use low heat to melt the paraffin and no open flame because paraffin is very flammable.  So a double boiler or something that melts wax like for making candles. By using cardboard egg cartons the cardboard it self becomes the wick.  I have also seen people use cupcake papers to hold the sawdust and wax.  Saw dust is added to the egg carton and I use a cheap 1/4 cup to pour the paraffin of the sawdust in the egg crate.  That is it so far that I have done on this project.

You want a fire lay some smaller bits (4-5 inch logs)  of wood in the stove and tear/cut the egg crate for the fire starter then light the cardboard up.  I started a 3-4 inch (20-40 cm) with a match a wedge of pine  on fire also the paraffin burns hot so it gets that chimney drawing air quickly.  I don’t think you would need to chop wood for kindling if you start making this sort of fire starter.  Also this fire starter might make a great “barter” good when proven to start a fire the first time every time.

This is my Emotional response to making the fire starters.  I’m disabled and cutting up kindling to start a fire was tough for me.  Oh,  I could do it and be down, not doing anything for at least a day.  I feared letting the fire going out when I started getting low on kindling.  I stoked the the wood stove in order to have coals in the morning.  I don’t feel that need any longer.  If the house is warm I’m good, because I can start a fire quickly.  I have to say I have a darn good wood stove so if I start a fire and fill it with wood I’m probably going to have coals in the morning.

Sat. March the 3rd is supposed to be a bit of a Blustery day with snow and rain.  I’m ready for the cold so I just might putter around the shop  and move Mom’s stuff around for moving it out the her place. Gosh my shop has been storage for most in my family and once Mom gets her stuff out eventually I’ll have my shop to use for me.  It only took 15 years.  LOL

 

Piles of chicken wire at my place

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I think we are going to have to cover Mom’s chicken run/ kennel with new chicken wire rather than the plastic fencing because of the wind out at her place.  At my place the chicken setup was in a very protected area from both wind and sun via the buildings and mature trees around my place.  Where Mom’s chicken are now get the full force of the prevailing winds and the birds don’t seem to care for the “run” setup at all.

We think that addition of predators are also making the birds a bit more nervous about using the chicken run.  I believe Mom and I can do a better job on string chicken wire and a tarp over the run once we get a few dollars to buy some lumber and set up a framework to support all the chicken wire.  I have a wood pressure treated post that should support the tarp that is well above the chicken wire that will prevent cutting and also help the tarp shed both rain and snow.

Mom has a little store bought chicken house she uses to isolate sick birds or intro new birds into the flock.  This little house looks like it was made to break down with wing nut bolts at the corners and “piano hinges” on the sides.  I think a few extra screws were added to try and make it more rigid but I  can deal with those now that I see how it was constructed.  The big chicken box is a bit more of a challenge as the frame work is starting to break down and it was sort of thrown together when it was built in the first place.  My plan is to remove the plywood panels that will remove a lot of weight. Move the box to Mom’s chicken run, repair/replace  the rotted 2 x 4’s and refurb the box for her chicken run.  The box may end up a few inches smaller over all but all of the framing should be solid and the chickens shouldn’t mind.

I still need to move a few little bit of furniture for Mom as the Kia mini van is protected.  Mom has a lot of wood furniture that can’t be exposed to water.  While the dully will move a lot or stuff it has no way to protect stuff and tarps usually don’t keep antiques safe from weather.  We will go slow moving stuff as it hurts no one that my shop isn’t cleared or my basement is full of totes.  Well except Mom as she can’t find her curtains or tea towels.

I gave Mom a few party buckets worth of wood to try out in her new wood stove last weekend. It was mostly dry pine but she finally got warm in her new home.  She has a darn good new central heat system that I will say does a great job as an electric heater but there is just something about a wood fire heat the warms both body and soul.  I loaded a bucket of the long burning hardwoods today so she could keep the fire burning until she can get some wood of her own.  I’m not sure of the cost of a “box” (1/4 cord) of apple wood today.  When I bought it it was considered waste by most orchards.

This my first year burning pine and now that it is dry I sort of like burning it in the daytime when stoking the fire every two -three hours for a hot fire it is a good burning wood.  Now at night when I want a long slow burn I want a hard wood. For this next year I’ll get on the list early for Douglas/ Red Fir and buy Fruit wood from the local orchards through summer.  Gosh, having the use of a 1 ton dually pickup truck sure adds a lot of options for home improvement.

 

 

A few little jobs done around the house

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It was a snowy weekend with a biting wind though it wasn’t very cold for winter.  I salted the front sidewalks on Friday evening for snow but I missed a few places where it got Icy.  Today the 25th of Feb I shoveled off the sidewalks and added a bit more ice melt to the Icy sections I could not shovel.  At worst we have about 2-4 inches of snow and it’s not worth breaking out the snow blower for that little bit of snow.

I finally got the new curtain rod hung over the large window in my living room.  The installation was very easy following the instructions compared to my usual job of “winging it”.  I installed a new shower curtain in my big bathroom and it looks okay, but I have to cut down the old shower curtain for my small bathroom shower. I won’t need the “tie backs” on the small bathroom shower curtain and guess what the burgundy color tie backs match the color of my living room curtains.  A couple of decorative hooks and I’ll have my curtains looking great and functional.  These are simple little jobs I have put off but it did feel darn good to get them done.

I had a very interesting experience today of another cat on my front porch smuggled up with Smokey the cat.  In the past Smokey was very territorial and would get all cranky with any cat entering her territory but this cat seems to be an exception.  Also this new cat seems very nice towards the black kitten “Ebony” who seems to call the alley home and my place specifically.  I set out some more food to augment the mouse hunts that they are doing.  I may set out Mom’s Chicken heated water setup so the critters can stay hydrated.  Clean fresh flowing water is critical to animal survival.  Plus if we can get a few good mousers to Mom’s place that would be wonderful.  The cats will have a good home and Mom will have a great mouse traps.

Tucker the peke has healed up well after having his eye pop out. He is still a bit odd looking after having the eye removed and the lid sewed shut but it was the only option after not saving the eye.  While Tucker has a bit of a blind spot on that side, it does not seem to have bothered his depth perception on jumping on my bed.  It is incredible how adaptable animals can be.  They don’t think to revel in misery they just move ahead on life and adapt.

There is still snow on the ground so on to gardening…..   LOL

Mom and I attended a local church that has a very extensive raised bed garden and learned quite a bit, or at least I learned some stuff.  I think their raised beds concept would work for me and be much less expensive over all than my concept of a raised bed for my main garden area.   Heck I’ve done most of the ground prep already.  Not buying cedar fence and pressure treated boards will save a lot of money.  It won’t be cheap with the rising cost of lumber but it won’t be as expensive as I thought it would be this year.

 

 

I was hoping to catch up on bills in one month. Nope!

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When I had to have stitches at the end of last year it cost over a $1000.00 and that ate a big hole in my emergency fund.  Then,  Tucker the Peke popped out an eyeball in 2018 and that cost another $700.00 before I could build my Emergency fund back up.

I was hoping I could take one late payment fee and get back on tract for payments in a month.  Well that is not going to happen!  It is mostly timing about when I get paid and when the payments must be paid. So I’ll take the little $20.00 “late payment” hit for making the house payment on the 21st rather than the 1st for two months.  I’m not in default on the mortgage but I’m just not paying on the first of the month and will get charged a late payment fee.  By May I should have built up another “emergency fund” to handle the house payments in a more timely manner.

Trying to scrimp and save while helping Mom move was not stress free.  So I just gave up on trying to get economically on track in one month and pushed it out to a 3 month (May) time frame.  I don’t use Credit cards much and try to stay cash only. So I occasionally take a late fee hit when things get sideways.  The late fees are motivation to get my finances in order.

I got one of Mom’s window blinds installed in her bedroom and it looks pretty good for an off the shelf standard blind. I gave her a couple of curtain rods for curtains but I need to finish installing a few more blinds so she has privacy and the little place becomes her home rather than a place where she lives.  One bad thing is she has aluminum  single pane windows.  Not good insulators and the Frost King tape is not sticking to those metal frames.  I’d like to add Storm windows but that is not in the budget.  I’ll probably end up stapling some plastic to the exterior for this winter and then try and find a better solution.  I did give Mom a couple of buckets of wood to try out in her wood stove.  She went and gather some tinder for the stove.  So she will have a bit of wood heat to augment her electric furnace.  I think wood heat is better but I have to admit the Electric heater of Mom’s House is darn good.  Once we insulate the crawl space and upgrade the windows it will be a warm little house.  Huzzah I figured out how to use the plug in the bath for Mom.  She will have a much better attitude for a long soak in the tub rather than taking showers.  LOL

I got Mom’s Laptop setup for the internet and programmed,  her Digital TV via Antenna. I think she got 45-50 over the air channels on the indoor antenna.  She has news, weather and old movies via broadcast channels for TV.  Internet for her Laptop and kindle.  The last thing I need to setup is her Roku via wireless internet.  The installer was good from what Mom says, but we need to buy her own Wireless setup and not pay cable modem rental fees.

We have some pretty nasty snow storms incoming so that means hauling furniture in the Dually pick up is out.  I hauled Mom’s little dining room set in my Kia mini-van so that should be doable.  The biggest problem now is Mom wants to upgrade the paneling on the walls and she does not have money to make that happen.  We have most of the bookcases in the correct rooms so we can load them up now.  Then when she has the money we can install the new wall stuff.

I doubt Mom feels this way but we got her storage shed emptied/chicken house moved. The chicken run/kennel on site, most of her totes, boxes are under some cover in sheds.  While she see what is not done I see what has been done by two disable women in the middle of an Idaho winter.  I’m an Optimist and see the glass as half full.  Mom is a bit of pessimist/cynic and often sees the glass as half empty and probably needs to be filtered!  LOL

It has been a challenge but we are both doing okay.  Mom wants to sell the Arctic Fox camper for around $6 grand but it has a bit of water damage.  It has an expansive front berth and I think the Propane generator and appliances are worth at least a $4 grand bid.  While I’m not a fan of electronic jacks.  I know they are not cheap to buy.  Buy the 4 season camper cheap and get a free propane generator, Multi- power fridge and freezer and electronic jacks for what ever.  The camper with a good working slide out, at that point is a cheap bonus!  It needs work but for about $6 grand you will have a great camper with a slide out.  Trust me used Arctic fox 4 season campers are pricey.  Mom says the custom trailer extension is part of the price.

 

I was worried about staying warm

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With Mom staying here I always woke up to a warm house as she is an early riser.  Mom hates the cold so she would always fire up the stove first thing after she woke around 5:30-6:00 AM.  I tend to be a night owl so I would usually load up the wood stove around mid-nite or 1:00 am so the longest the stove went without stoking was about 6 hours.

Now that I’m doing all the work maintaining the fire I’m a bit surprised that I’m doing a good job keeping the fire going overnight. So far I have had good coals to restart the fire in the morning and the coldest it has gotten so far is 70 degrees F. in the living room where the wood stove is located.  It gets a bit cooler on the backside of the house but  only into the lower 60s F. which is a temp. I prefer to sleep at night.  I have a small electric heater to heat up the backside of the house if needed.

I’m using a mix of the seasoned pine during the day and some of the leftover chunks of hard wood for over night.  I’m also leaving a lot more of the ashes in the stove to help insulate the coals last over night.  One thing about Mom she kept the wood stove very cleaned from all ash.  I think for my wood stove keeping an inch or two of ashes helps when “banking” the fire overnight.  I don’t use a grate in my wood stove and the fire is laid directly on the fire brick.

I cut up a few ratty old pallets I had on hand for some kindling.  I have found I really hate cutting up kindling as it is tedious.  What is great for me so far as I have only used a few bits of the pallets to start a fire on one day this week.  Between the leftover coals a few pine cones scavenged from under the pines at a local park and the seasoned pine wood, I can restart the fire in the wood stove without using tinder or even a match.

We might get some snow so I got the front porch wood rack loaded up with plenty of wood.  Mom grabbed wood and walked it in via several trips but I prefer loading up the garden wagon and making larger but fewer trips.  I also have a small toboggan/plastic sled I can use to transport wood if get a lot of snow that the wagon can’t get through in the back yard.

Mom needs a way to start protecting her property from trespassers.  We need a cheap sort of cheap fence or barrier that lets folks know that behind her home is not an alley way or access area.  I was thinking Rail road ties or concrete bricks along and those landscaping timbers.  I don’t want to be a bitch to people, but unless she protects her property rights she will lose them to “common” use.  It is a bit cold now but maybe some concrete block towers filled with sand and a few signs that state “Private Driveway” would be a good start.

 

Chickens are moved and Kennel chicken run built.

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Mom has been living in her new house this weekend.  We tore down the kennel that Mom uses for her chicken run and move it out to her new home.  We both knew it would bee a tough job and having an weather change with an ICY wind really made the job suck!  One of the kennel walls has a 4 x 8 foot chunk of OSB that made a bitch to move, but that OSB wall cuts the wind blowing into the little chicken door to the chicken house.  It was about 45 minutes prior to sunset when Mom opened the chicken door to the kennel and the birds had a blast scratching around in the protected ” Chicken Run”.

We still need to add a some top fencing to the kennel to keep out predators but we are looking at using green plastic garden/snow type fencing rather than adding chicken wire.  Mom likes to add a tarp to the top of the kennel to protect the birds from the weather and the plastic fencing won’t tear up the tarp like the metal chicken wire.  I’m still working on adding a light weight wood frame to support the kennel “roof” that will angled so snow will slide off rather than way down the fencing on the top of the kennel.

The weather has shifted, so instead of all the cold weather running down the east side of the Rockies and freezing you all back east it is our turn for cold weather with coming down the western slope of the Rockies.  Looks like Mom was right that FEB. and March being our cold months locally.  Heck you folks back east need some warmer weather and I hope flooding won’t be a problem.  I am doing very good on wood as all my pine seems to be burning well after having a couple of months to season naturally.  I prefer burning fruit wood or even Douglas fir rather than pine but after my mad scramble to find wood to burn last fall I have several full wood racks and even better a good plan to get a mix of fast & hot burning wood.  Plus the Dually pickup to get long burning fruit wood from the local Orchards.

I did have a have some bad news on my Dogs.  Diana the Peke passed away in her sleep after a great 15 years of life.  Tucker the peke got into a fight and pop out an eyeball and the eye could not be saved.  So the vet removed the eye and sewed the lid shut.  Tucker is doing darn good around the place thought he looks a bit like Popeye with his sewed lid.  Another $700.00 for Tucker’s surgery killed my newly created “emergency fund”.  Well it was an Emergency, so I guess it all worked out.  Going to take a few months being tight with funds to start building a new Emergency fund and get the new garden beds installed.  At the very worst I’ll have to use last years garden beds, which is not so bad in the grand scheme of things.

 

Tough and expensive couple of weeks.

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Diana the peke died after 15  years.  I almost put her down 18 months ago but she bounced back.  This time she just was worn out and died in her sleep.  Diana had a great run and I like to think a pretty good life for a dog.  Tucker the peke picked another fight with Mom’s terrier Jackson and popped an eyeball.  Well Tucker lost the eye and the surgery was not an anticipated expense but he is healing well and now has a tough “piratical” look.  Hopefully we won’t have any more medical emergencies that require stitches the next few months.

Still moving Mom into her new place but this going back and forth is wearing us both out.  We got the electrical cord in conduit buried across the roadway.  Mom got a great deal on a washer/dryer delivered and installed and the appliance guys will give her a $75.00 credit for a glass top stove trade for an element top type stove.  I believe a glass stove is for people who seldom use a stove to cook.

I dropped off Mom’s portable Air conditioner unit but I’m not sure she will need it in her small home of 900 sq.ft.  As long as she is comfortable to sleep she should be good.  That means lower electrical costs in summer.

The big thing for Mom is taking care of her chickens.  The chicken house is moved to her place.  We add power via electrical cords that are run through pipe and have a small/temporary chicken run at Mom’s place.

Mom owning a home still is not quite real for her.  Well a few mortgage payments and utility bills should take care of that concept.  Mom can’t afford to pay me rent and have her own place and pay the bills.  She must strike out and make her own place and do her thing.  I’m not kicking her out I’m just trying to make her move as easy as possible.

 

Well we got Mom’s bedroom done now all we need to do is the bathroom and kitchen basics and the rest is easy.

 

Mom’s moving Update!

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Mom got all of the rental storage sheds cleaned out before paying another month of rent, Huzzah!  Of course the house is sort of full of stuff that is not put away.  The chicken house has been moved and some temporary fencing is up for the chicken run.  In the next couple of days we should be able to move the chicken run “kennel” out to Mom’s place and finish setting it up for the birds.

We finished setting up Mom’s bed today and by the weekend we hope to have all the chickens moved to Mom’s new home.  I need to add the power out to the chicken house that is cheap but safe.  My plan is to run the extension cord though PVC pipe and then bury the pipe 6-12 inches deep across the driveway area so the cord does not get damaged.  This is a temporary fix until Mom can run power out to her shop/critter area.

We did have a bit of bad luck as Tucker lost an eye in a dog fight. I’m good on paying for the Vet bill but getting the work trailer and hitch installed will take another couple of months of saving up cash.   It often seems that when you build and “Emergency Fund”  an Emergency happens.  I still prefer moving cash around to pay the bill rather than not having any funds to pay an unexpected bill.

We are not done moving but by this weekend we should have enough done on the move that Mom can live in the house and then putter around finishing up the odds and ends.

Wood report

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So far we have used about a cord of wood this winter.  The pine is seasoning very well and burns well in the wood stove.  My wood pile area is protected against rain/snow but gets all the breezes that helps dry wood.  My wood seems to dry/season better on my simple wood racks and Tarps as a cover, compared to having a roof over the wood.

Now it has been warm this winter and dry compared to last year.  So I consider this year’s wood use atypical for a normal winter.  Feb. and March can be cold and blustery but I’m sure my wood pile will last through this winter.

Moving Mom’s stuff: We got a few more boxes and some of the bigger pieces of furniture moved out of the rental storage sheds.  Moving heavy furniture is very tough for us and now we are passed the light stuff and have boxes of books to move along with the bookcases.  We are still painting and cleaning  and getting inspections done on the house.  While I complain about moving this winter, the weather has been very mild during the move.  Our biggest problem has been cleaning out the storage sheds so there is not another monthly storage fee.  As long as we clear out the rental storage units this week we should be good to go on the stuff Mom stored for free at my house.

Had a bit of an issue with the Chevy sputtering but we think it is old gas from the fuel tank that may have a bit of water in the fuel tank that may have set for a few months.  We added some gas and the Chevy made it home no problems.  The air cleaner is very dirty so that need to be changed out but it does not look like a problem with the fuel pump. We think it might be a bit of water in the fuel lines or gas tank.  Both Mom and I are buying non-ethanol gas for our vehicles so this problem should go away in time.

Great news the Garbage truck guys picked up all the chunks of carpet and bathroom vanities and stuff.  The driveway is cleared and we did not have to haul away that trash.

The weather is supposed to be a bit snowy, rainy and damp so we will focus on painting and cleanup this weekend.  Monday the 29th the movers will clean out the rental sheds and move the fridge. It’s all do able but it ain’t easy. Mom says if she has a fridge and a bed she can adapt but I’d like her to have a kitchen table and a sofa in the living room.

It should be simple to paint the walls and set stuff up for the last items to be moved into Mom’s house.  Simple does not mean easy and we are both tired so we have take that in consideration.  Gosh we have not even touched on moving the stuff I stored in my house.

If it was easy everyone would play the game.

Mom’s Moving update

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Most of the contractor install jobs and painting are complete. Mom had a couple of ceiling fans installed to circulate the air.  New bathroom and kitchen vent fans installed and last but not least a wood stove and the chimney is lined with pipe for safe wood heat.

Ugh! oil based Kill-z is brutal to use in enclosed places.  I donated a water based Kill-Z paint for covering the Sheet rock  walls but Mom got some of the oil based stuff for the paneling.  Use two coats of the water based Kill-Z as the oil based stuff is horrible, semi-toxic to use indoors.

We are in a bit of a time crunch as we want to empty both of Mom’s storage sheds before she has to pay another month’s rent.  Stuff stored here at my house can wait as it costs nothing to store until Mom is ready for it.  Good news is Mom hired movers to get the heavy furniture and appliances moved and most of the painting is done so the house is ready for the big items to be set in place.  According to the weather guru’s we should have a dry 50 degree day for getting all that heavy furniture moved.

FYI for cleaning wax of a carpet:  Using an iron and some news paper to cleanup wax from a small spill should work great.  Cleaning up a large candle spill of several ounces of candle wax  is a bit of a lost cause.  I have to say I’m more impressed with my little Hoover carpet cleaner with the rotating brushes than ever, especially compared to using the Bissel carpet cleaners that use beater bars.  Home Depot is running a flooring “sale” right now and if you are looking for a basic carpet cleaner I’d recommend the Hoover cleaner with rotating brushes for $99.00 rather than the most expensive Bissel with a beater bar and all the “bells and whistles”.   The Hoover is simple to clean and has easy to replace parts.

Most of the painting is done though Mom needs to go over the Kill-Z paint with the Semi-gloss paint in her bedroom.  We are ready to start moving in Mom’s furniture and appliances from the shed.  What we are going to do is get all the small stuff and boxed up items out to the place and out of the storage sheds. If we are successful all the mover’s will have to move will be the heavy items that Mom and I can’t move ourselves.

Mom has spent a good chunk of money to make things easier for her in the long run but cash is a bit tight in the short term.  Such is life, when you got the money you don’t have the time and when you got the time, you don’t have the money to get things done!

Some good news for Spring is we may have the use of a back hoe to cleanup a few areas around Mom’s place!  While it is a mad dash right now getting Mom moved in this month. I’m looking forward to having the Chevy 1 ton for getting drive way rock and getting fruit wood for firewood from the local orchards.

What to do if you think you are getting NUKED!

First thing to remember is if you are outside of the blast zone area you have a great chance at survival!

Worst case scenario you are caught in the open during the blast.  You need to get below grade to protect yourself from the fire blast and then the back blast winds.  A nuke will create a huge heat wave at first and then all the air rush back to equalize the pressure.  So the first you will need to do is find protection from the blast waves.  Depending on where you are it might be the core of a sky scraper or an internal room of a home or even the shoulder of a road you are driving along.  Get low and get small in any area that offers protection in that first 10-15 minutes warning.   Think about the Nuke warning like folks think about tornado warnings.  You don’t have a lot of time but there are ways you can protect yourself.

A standing stick frame home can protect you against Alpha or Beta particles/waves.  Hell even a piece of paper will stop Alpha waves.  The Gamma rays/particles is what requires a lot of  air space or dirt/sand bags or lead.  The biggest danger of radiation is that it will rest on your skin for some time or that you will breathe it in or ingest it via food.  So if you are a prepper you have already stored non-nuked water and food so now all you need to do is clean off any fallout that has landed on your skin before you enter your shelter.  All that takes is you disrobing, using some clean non-nuked water and soap. outside your shelter and have clean non-nuke clothes to change into in your shelter.

Stay inside for about 14 days to wait for the radiation to mitigate and then clean up stuff after suiting up to protect against any fall out dust.  I know this is not an Apocalyptic scenario so loved by Hollywood but it is much closer to reality.  2 cities that where hit by small nukes.

Nagasaki Japan

Hiroshima Japan

These places don’t look like Nuclear waste lands. You should take precautions and get prepared for getting nuked.  Just like you plan for sort of disasters.

Personally I don’t think Hawaii would get nuked at this time.  Really people don’t care about the Fukishima melt down. So how much would they care about Hawaii getting bombed.  I think the Norks would try to do a high altitude EMP burst to take out the grid or hit a major city like Seattle, LA or Chicago so the USA is busy with cleanup.  I think little Kim is crazy but he isn’t stupid.  The Norks can’t take out a USA retaliatory  nuke strike so most of this is bluff and bluster from Kim.   That is not to say that Russia or China or any other nuke powers could not send over a missile if they think it is a good play.  Or even some terrorists could set off a “dirty bomb” but not a nuke strike.  I think Japan would be hit before Hawaii and I think the Norks would try and hit the Continental USA before nuking Hawaii.

Stop beating up the Dems in Hawaii over this drill.  Yes it sucked but it did wake people up about getting prepared.  I’m more peeved that people did not know what to do if a ballistic missile was inbound.  Can you imagine if the same warning was given to the West coast of the USA?

I don’t require the “button pusher” to be fired.  It was a mistake but a good test for the people.  Damn you dropped your kids in the sewers!  What would they eat and drink if the alert was real!

 

 

 

 

 

What to do if you think you are getting NUKED!

Click here to view the original post.

First thing to remember is if you are outside of the blast zone area you have a great chance at survival!

Worst case scenario you are caught in the open during the blast.  You need to get below grade to protect yourself from the fire blast and then the back blast winds.  A nuke will create a huge heat wave at first and then all the air rush back to equalize the pressure.  So the first you will need to do is find protection from the blast waves.  Depending on where you are it might be the core of a sky scraper or an internal room of a home or even the shoulder of a road you are driving along.  Get low and get small in any area that offers protection in that first 10-15 minutes warning.   Think about the Nuke warning like folks think about tornado warnings.  You don’t have a lot of time but there are ways you can protect yourself.

A standing stick frame home can protect you against Alpha or Beta particles/waves.  Hell even a piece of paper will stop Alpha waves.  The Gamma rays/particles is what requires a lot of  air space or dirt/sand bags or lead.  The biggest danger of radiation is that it will rest on your skin for some time or that you will breathe it in or ingest it via food.  So if you are a prepper you have already stored non-nuked water and food so now all you need to do is clean off any fallout that has landed on your skin before you enter your shelter.  All that takes is you disrobing, using some clean non-nuked water and soap. outside your shelter and have clean non-nuke clothes to change into in your shelter.

Stay inside for about 14 days to wait for the radiation to mitigate and then clean up stuff after suiting up to protect against any fall out dust.  I know this is not an Apocalyptic scenario so loved by Hollywood but it is much closer to reality.  2 cities that where hit by small nukes.

Nagasaki Japan

Hiroshima Japan

These places don’t look like Nuclear waste lands. You should take precautions and get prepared for getting nuked.  Just like you plan for sort of disasters.

Personally I don’t think Hawaii would get nuked at this time.  Really people don’t care about the Fukishima melt down. So how much would they care about Hawaii getting bombed.  I think the Norks would try to do a high altitude EMP burst to take out the grid or hit a major city like Seattle, LA or Chicago so the USA is busy with cleanup.  I think little Kim is crazy but he isn’t stupid.  The Norks can’t take out a USA retaliatory  nuke strike so most of this is bluff and bluster from Kim.   That is not to say that Russia or China or any other nuke powers could not send over a missile if they think it is a good play.  Or even some terrorists could set off a “dirty bomb” but not a nuke strike.  I think Japan would be hit before Hawaii and I think the Norks would try and hit the Continental USA before nuking Hawaii.

Stop beating up the Dems in Hawaii over this drill.  Yes it sucked but it did wake people up about getting prepared.  I’m more peeved that people did not know what to do if a ballistic missile was inbound.  Can you imagine if the same warning was given to the West coast of the USA?

I don’t require the “button pusher” to be fired.  It was a mistake but a good test for the people.  Damn you dropped your kids in the sewers!  What would they eat and drink if the alert was real!

 

 

 

 

 

What to do if you think you are getting NUKED!

First thing to remember is if you are outside of the blast zone area you have a great chance at survival!

Worst case scenario you are caught in the open during the blast.  You need to get below grade to protect yourself from the fire blast and then the back blast winds.  A nuke will create a huge heat wave at first and then all the air rush back to equalize the pressure.  So the first you will need to do is find protection from the blast waves.  Depending on where you are it might be the core of a sky scraper or an internal room of a home or even the shoulder of a road you are driving along.  Get low and get small in any area that offers protection in that first 10-15 minutes warning.   Think about the Nuke warning like folks think about tornado warnings.  You don’t have a lot of time but there are ways you can protect yourself.

A standing stick frame home can protect you against Alpha or Beta particles/waves.  Hell even a piece of paper will stop Alpha waves.  The Gamma rays/particles is what requires a lot of  air space or dirt/sand bags or lead.  The biggest danger of radiation is that it will rest on your skin for some time or that you will breathe it in or ingest it via food.  So if you are a prepper you have already stored non-nuked water and food so now all you need to do is clean off any fallout that has landed on your skin before you enter your shelter.  All that takes is you disrobing, using some clean non-nuked water and soap. outside your shelter and have clean non-nuke clothes to change into in your shelter.

Stay inside for about 14 days to wait for the radiation to mitigate and then clean up stuff after suiting up to protect against any fall out dust.  I know this is not an Apocalyptic scenario so loved by Hollywood but it is much closer to reality.  2 cities that where hit by small nukes.

Nagasaki Japan

Hiroshima Japan

These places don’t look like Nuclear waste lands. You should take precautions and get prepared for getting nuked.  Just like you plan for sort of disasters.

Personally I don’t think Hawaii would get nuked at this time.  Really people don’t care about the Fukishima melt down. So how much would they care about Hawaii getting bombed.  I think the Norks would try to do a high altitude EMP burst to take out the grid or hit a major city like Seattle, LA or Chicago so the USA is busy with cleanup.  I think little Kim is crazy but he isn’t stupid.  The Norks can’t take out a USA retaliatory  nuke strike so most of this is bluff and bluster from Kim.   That is not to say that Russia or China or any other nuke powers could not send over a missile if they think it is a good play.  Or even some terrorists could set off a “dirty bomb” but not a nuke strike.  I think Japan would be hit before Hawaii and I think the Norks would try and hit the Continental USA before nuking Hawaii.

Stop beating up the Dems in Hawaii over this drill.  Yes it sucked but it did wake people up about getting prepared.  I’m more peeved that people did not know what to do if a ballistic missile was inbound.  Can you imagine if the same warning was given to the West coast of the USA?

I don’t require the “button pusher” to be fired.  It was a mistake but a good test for the people.  Damn you dropped your kids in the sewers!  What would they eat and drink if the alert was real!

 

 

 

 

 

Camper is off the truck

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Thank you Randy the youtube links helped a lot.  Unloading the camper took all morning as we were learning and could only lower one jack at a time.  Plus we were also dealing with slightly sloped ground.   I have to say lowering the jacks was a bit nerve racking as I was afraid I drop the camper on her “nose”.  The camper is down resting on wood pallets and I put the camper jacks down so they help stabilize the camper but the jacks are not holding the weight of the camper.

Mom got a great deal on her wood stove but the existing chimney needs a new liner to be safe and to code.  I don’t knock those that DIY chimney installs when they know what they are doing.  Speaking for myself I know enough to know I don’t know enough to install a chimney. Mom has a smoke alarm/ carbon monoxide alarm along with a mounted fire extinguisher in the kitchen to deal with any small fires.

It has been a little pricey for mom to relocate the  house water main shut off in the utility closet. As Mom is not physically able to jump in the crawl space and turn off the water main the valve needed to be moved for her.  I have never heard any one complain that the water main, gas main or breaker boxes are too easy to access.

Some good news I may have the materials to donate to Mom for making her shop a bit more weather resistant.  I forgot that I had aluminum fascia in my shop.  While this fix will not be weather proof it should be much more weather resistant than a hole in the shop roof.

The new wood floor should be finished so we can start moving in furniture. I need to make the shop semi secured, clean up the wax on the bedroom carpet.  Finish scrubbing the bedroom carpet.  Tape off the the interior for painting with Kill-Z and start painting the interior walls.  We want to empty Mom’s storage units before another monthly fee is charged.

Things are a bit crazy at the moment but it will all work out in time.

Uhg! the camper

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Mom has an old 93 Chevy 1 ton dually and an Arctic fox camper on it.  Unloading that camper is becoming a major hassle.  Big problem is the camper jacks are motorized and have not been serviced, there is no documentation on how to lower the jacks and Mom used the jacks 5-6 years ago.  Needless to say there has been a bit of a learning curve and a lot of frustration trying to unload the camper!  I think I have a fix for lowering the jacks even if I have to disconnect the electric motors to drop the jacks manually.

The valves under the bathroom vanity leaked and the house shut off valve was in a crawl space that Mom would have a hell of time getting turned off.  While a bit expensive to re-route the turn off valve. Mom hired a plumber to replace the bathroom valves, install a new 24 inch bathroom vanity and new faucet.  The plumber also  installed new valves for the washer area.  There is a whole house water shut off valve in the utility closet next to the heater and hot water heater.  Mom has spent a good amount of money to get the the plumbing usable for her.  I get a bit manic about good plumbing because I have fought so many battles of bad plumbing runs in my house.

I went through and did some dry wall repairs on Mom’s house.  I added a mesh tape, a little spackle to cracks and tried out some of the dry wall texture in a can.  Not sure how it will turn out until we get some paint on the “repaired” areas.  Mom bought new chrome bathroom light fixtures, toilet paper holder and a towel rack that I need to install. Actually Mom has an electrician coming to install the new ceiling fans and new bathroom fan.  But I have been tagged to install the bathroom towel rack, ring and toilet paper holder.

Some good news, while Mom is replacing most of the carpet in the house she chose not to replace the carpet in “her bedroom”.  I ran my little carpet scrubber over some of the rug and used a bit of sudsy ammonia on some of the stains and the beige color carpet is really starting to look pretty good!   There is a spot that seems to be candle wax that was dropped on the carpet. Mom brought an clothes iron and I brought a heat gun along with paper towels and news paper to draw up the candle wax.  I’ll let you all know how that works out.   Using the sudsy ammonia on carpet stains along with a carpet cleaner seems to be working.  I have cleaned up several “rust” and spill sort of stains but I am still working on the high traffic area dirt.  My little carpet cleaner literally had a quarter inch of clay in the tank that was pulled out of the bedroom carpet.  The bedroom carpet is looking much better on this first run of using the carpet cleaner.  Oh, using sudsy ammonia and a scrub brush on pre-treating the  really dirty and stained areas is making a huge difference cleaning the stained parts of the carpet.   I think we might save the carpet via cleaning but I think we might have to deal with some dingy high traffic areas.  It is still early days and I was surprised about how well the carpet stains came up.

The Shop needs the gap in the roof closed off but we can start moving Moms stuff from my shop to hers and tarp the areas that might get damp.  Goodness knows my shop is not water tight.  I have a couple of ply wood sheets I could use to re-enforce Mom’s shop doors once cut to size.  This would be a great opportunity to test the ease of use of the Ryobi battery power circular saw.

Mom wants to move into her home and I want to help her as I’ll get most of my shop area back.  It seems or physical limitations are biting us in the butt.  not only that all the contractors are screwing with our time lines.  Not a bad thing unless you are counting on lag time for jobs getting done in a certain order.  Gosh I had a week or to to splash paint willy-nilly.  Nope, Mom is having new flooring installed.  Damn! got to rethink this paint walls attack. LOL

The weather has been glorious.  50 degrees F. in the daytime and above freezing at night here in the valley.  Next week might bet a bit cooler/damp with rain I can work through that kind of weather.

Our biggest problems right now is we need the floor finished before we move stuff in the house.  We want to paint before the furniture is in the house and we have to drop the camper off the pickup so we can start moving stuff into the house.

I have been thinking about things wrong.  I have the materials to make stuff at least safe and semi strong.  I can cut boards and plywood on hand to fix stuff.  It won’t be pretty but it should work short term.  Gosh I’m rambling on a bit.  I think there is potential but it will take some work.  What else is new?

Just an update on Mom’s house and I still need to explore the bunker….

 

Things are looking awesome for Mom’s home.

We are going to have to do a lot of cleanup, painting and fixing odds and ends, but it looks very doable!  We found a small wood stove that should heat the house safely and it will be delivered on the 10th.  Mom is getting the flooring  guys in for replacing the bad flooring.  Mom and I bought a new bathroom vanity and faucet for just over $100.00.  I donated a 2 gallon bucket of Kill Z to start the paint job on the house.  I see the tar and smoking stains on the walls  and while cleaning helps you need to seal the dry wall before you paint or those stains will bleed through the paint.

Speaking of paint True Value hardware stores have semi-gloss paint for sale this month at $20.99 per gallon.  This is great paint that is easy to clean.  Many latex paints tend rub off  dry wall when they are cleaned.  More good news is some of the blinds will fit the windows of the new house.  While Mom’s house windows seem to be air tight I have a lot of weather proof plastic and tape that will make all those windows air tight this winter.

On the vanity in Mom’s bathroom, I think it came from a RV salvage yard.  The good news is they installed all new plumbing hardware to make the RV vanity work.  So it should be dead simple to replace the vanity and the faucet to give Mom a great little sink, faucet and a small vanity for storage.  I’m no plumber but I can do some simple DIY jobs around the house.

We need to install a doggie door and Mom got a very nice doggie door on sale.  Also we need to start adding gutters to the roof to move the water dripping so close to the foundation.  I think I can install a gutter so that it feeds water to the stone planter beds in the front of the house.

I loaded the Kia Mini-van with 2 pallets for the camper to rest on and now the mini van is semi full of bathroom vanity and ceiling fans that need to be installed.  Once we drop the Arctic Fox Camper, we will have the 1 ton dually pickup to start moving stuff.  If we can unload stuff we are good to go!  Unloading a 400 pound stove is a bit beyond us but once it is at ground level we can maneuver that sucker into place.  Once the wood stove is in place Mom can get get plenty of dry fruit wood to burn via the orchards.

I do not recommend buying “kiln dried wood” as a replacement for seasoned wood.  Kiln dried wood simply opens up the pores of the wood while in the oven and when stored out doors that wood soaks up any and all moisture.  The pine is seasoning/drying after 2 months in the wood racks and seems to burn well after seasoning.  I will use about half of my wood stack on racks this winter.    It will be interesting  to see how Mom stacks her wood.

While I won’t claim success.  I think things are looking semi-positive. Now it is just doing the work and adapting.

 

Things are looking awesome for Mom’s home.

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We are going to have to do a lot of cleanup, painting and fixing odds and ends, but it looks very doable!  We found a small wood stove that should heat the house safely and it will be delivered on the 10th.  Mom is getting the flooring  guys in for replacing the bad flooring.  Mom and I bought a new bathroom vanity and faucet for just over $100.00.  I donated a 2 gallon bucket of Kill Z to start the paint job on the house.  I see the tar and smoking stains on the walls  and while cleaning helps you need to seal the dry wall before you paint or those stains will bleed through the paint.

Speaking of paint True Value hardware stores have semi-gloss paint for sale this month at $20.99 per gallon.  This is great paint that is easy to clean.  Many latex paints tend rub off  dry wall when they are cleaned.  More good news is some of the blinds will fit the windows of the new house.  While Mom’s house windows seem to be air tight I have a lot of weather proof plastic and tape that will make all those windows air tight this winter.

On the vanity in Mom’s bathroom, I think it came from a RV salvage yard.  The good news is they installed all new plumbing hardware to make the RV vanity work.  So it should be dead simple to replace the vanity and the faucet to give Mom a great little sink, faucet and a small vanity for storage.  I’m no plumber but I can do some simple DIY jobs around the house.

We need to install a doggie door and Mom got a very nice doggie door on sale.  Also we need to start adding gutters to the roof to move the water dripping so close to the foundation.  I think I can install a gutter so that it feeds water to the stone planter beds in the front of the house.

I loaded the Kia Mini-van with 2 pallets for the camper to rest on and now the mini van is semi full of bathroom vanity and ceiling fans that need to be installed.  Once we drop the Arctic Fox Camper, we will have the 1 ton dually pickup to start moving stuff.  If we can unload stuff we are good to go!  Unloading a 400 pound stove is a bit beyond us but once it is at ground level we can maneuver that sucker into place.  Once the wood stove is in place Mom can get get plenty of dry fruit wood to burn via the orchards.

I do not recommend buying “kiln dried wood” as a replacement for seasoned wood.  Kiln dried wood simply opens up the pores of the wood while in the oven and when stored out doors that wood soaks up any and all moisture.  The pine is seasoning/drying after 2 months in the wood racks and seems to burn well after seasoning.  I will use about half of my wood stack on racks this winter.    It will be interesting  to see how Mom stacks her wood.

While I won’t claim success.  I think things are looking semi-positive. Now it is just doing the work and adapting.

 

Mom got her house!

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We delivered the new 7.2 freezer (fits in a Kia mini-van) to Mom’s new house. Both out buildings need some work but look somewhat square. though not water tight.   There is a lot of lot of work to be done but the potential pay off is huge!  One  of the bedroom’s carpets is trash as it smelled strongly of urine. The kitchen needs a replacement floor covering.  The out buildings look much better than I suspected.  We can work with that easily. I need to walk Mom’s property and see what needs to be done.

I’m no land guru but I have learned how to make do with what you have on site.  I want to be focused but Mom does not know what she wants to do with the property.  In time I think we will figure it out.  Gosh mom can drop the Arctic Fox camper and we will have a ton dually truck to haul stuff.

I’ll give Mom my little shop vac to clean the fans.  I have compressed air, WD 40 and silicon spray to help restore fans or at least clean them up for the electricians to replace.  My cheap dead bolt locks did not fit so we will go to home depot for replacements of door knobs and dead bolts.

It was a “mixed bag” of stuff.  Mom tends  to be negative  and I tend to be Hyper-positive.  Give me a big pile of manure and I will start looking for a pony!  Or start I’ll start planting rose bushes.

I did my first batch of “bone broth”  Actually the broth is a lot like making stock to the next level. Make a stock using bones/carcass  and double the time until the bones literally crumble when pinched .  The broth liquid for beef broth should look at least “coffee” level dark.  A crock pot might be slower and you will need to make smaller batches it is very doable to make “bone broth” in a crock pot in 48 hours.

Good news on the fire wood the pine wood is drying naturally and burning better in  the wood stove.  I don’t think Kiln dried wood is good for a wood pile as the heat opens up the wood pores to dry and that wood is open to moisture out side the kiln.  So far it has been relatively warm this winter.  35-40 degrees F. is very comfortable in SW Idaho in January. At this point “if the weather stays the same” my wood stack will be good into next winter.  I was terrified I did not have enough wood going into this winter.   Now I think I’m good.  I have the old dry hard wood accessible and the drying pine working so life is good.

S. Lynn I owe you a phone call as Mom is getting close to your location.  How is the learning welding going?

Mom got her house!

We delivered the new 7.2 freezer (fits in a Kia mini-van) to Mom’s new house. Both out buildings need some work but look somewhat square. though not water tight.   There is a lot of lot of work to be done but the potential pay off is huge!  One  of the bedroom’s carpets is trash as it smelled strongly of urine. The kitchen needs a replacement floor covering.  The out buildings look much better than I suspected.  We can work with that easily. I need to walk Mom’s property and see what needs to be done.

I’m no land guru but I have learned how to make do with what you have on site.  I want to be focused but Mom does not know what she wants to do with the property.  In time I think we will figure it out.  Gosh mom can drop the Arctic Fox camper and we will have a ton dually truck to haul stuff.

I’ll give Mom my little shop vac to clean the fans.  I have compressed air, WD 40 and silicon spray to help restore fans or at least clean them up for the electricians to replace.  My cheap dead bolt locks did not fit so we will go to home depot for replacements of door knobs and dead bolts.

It was a “mixed bag” of stuff.  Mom tends  to be negative  and I tend to be Hyper-positive.  Give me a big pile of manure and I will start looking for a pony!  Or start I’ll start planting rose bushes.

I did my first batch of “bone broth”  Actually the broth is a lot like making stock to the next level. Make a stock using bones/carcass  and double the time until the bones literally crumble when pinched .  The broth liquid for beef broth should look at least “coffee” level dark.  A crock pot might be slower and you will need to make smaller batches it is very doable to make “bone broth” in a crock pot in 48 hours.

Good news on the fire wood the pine wood is drying naturally and burning better in  the wood stove.  I don’t think Kiln dried wood is good for a wood pile as the heat opens up the wood pores to dry and that wood is open to moisture out side the kiln.  So far it has been relatively warm this winter.  35-40 degrees F. is very comfortable in SW Idaho in January. At this point “if the weather stays the same” my wood stack will be good into next winter.  I was terrified I did not have enough wood going into this winter.   Now I think I’m good.  I have the old dry hard wood accessible and the drying pine working so life is good.

S. Lynn I owe you a phone call as Mom is getting close to your location.  How is the learning welding going?

New slippers and a sled

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One thing nice about the end of the year is almost everything goes on sale.  I have been stocking up on small fans that are battery rechargeable via a USB port as that is a power port on my 15 watt solar panel.   The fans I have been getting are cheap but several of the fans move a lot of air for the power and size.  These little fans will be great to add to my Mr. Buddy Heater to move the heat around camping or in the RV.  I think using a small rechargeable power packs that can be recharged via solar is better than buying lots of small batteries.   A great thing about these fans having a USB port for charging is that I can use an small power bank and recharge via solar  or use a USB plug into an electrical socket or generator socket.  I picked a couple more solar powered blow up lights for $3.00 each.  The lights don’t have a red blinking  light the $10.00 models have but over all I think they will work out well for camping and storm prep. Now I can add the small solar light to my vehicle preps that is much safer than using candles.

I love a good pair of slippers as much as I love a good pair of gloves.  If you have sweaty feet  like I do you will need at least two pairs of slippers so one pair dries while you wear the other pair.  I was never one to go “bare foot” even in warm weather and dealing with CIDP I need my feet to stay warm so I feel warm.  On my snow-blowing adventure that I started in sneakers I found having warm water proof boots out side is a plus and having warm and dry slippers was even more important to warming up.  I have found if you can can keep your feet and hands warm you will feel warm.  While I have not put in place a switch winter boots to house slipper or “indoor” shoes I think it could help not tracking in dirt and stuff from the out doors.  That would save clean up time!

I got a small sled to haul wood to the front porch and not use the garden wagon in the snow. I bought 10 feet of line and added a piece of hose for grip so the rope won’t dig into your palm while hauling wood.

Mom looked at purchasing a wood stove and getting it installed and it is not cheap.  For a good efficient wood stove that will give yo at least a 6 hour burn time is energy efficient and safe you are looking at a cost of 4 grand if installing a wood stove from nothing.   Oh sure you can go with a cheap stove to start. But it pays long term to get the best stove you can buy even if the upfront costs seem a little steep. There are bonuses investing in a higher cost stove.

  • These are efficient stoves.
  • Most of the stoves have cool to touch sides.
  • These stoves don’t need to be stoked every 4 hours

While the back part of my house gets cold over night.  Cold means about 60  degrees F.  Pipes are not freezing and the dogs get snuggled  into pet beds.   Mom did not feel good today so she worked hard to makes sure her chicks were comfy.  I’m not going to complain as the chicks are keeping her in eggs.  I I need to look at a few dead heaters and see if they are fixable via attaching a wire along with a good clean out via air compressor.

Such is life, most things are simple.  That does not mean they are easy.

 

 

Playing with the sno-blower

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I have never used a sno-blower until this year and there seems to be a learning curve I did not anticipate.  I don’t think I setup the handle of the snow blower correctly though I followed the directions.  I’m about 5′ 6″ and I found myself hunching while using this blower.  The extension cord is a bit problematic as a thick 10 gauge extension cord does play out easily.  I still think the sno-blower was a good buy as it does a great job clearing snow once the “loose nut” behind the machine figures out how to use the machine.  While it was not pretty to watch me using the machine.  It was easy to cut snow paths over my bark paths without digging into the bark. Even cutting snow paths over grass was easy.

I suspected  that the rubberized blades will deal with the rock and wood paths better compared to a regular gas powered snow blower that is built to clear hard surfaces.  So far I’ll give the Sno-Joe electric snow blower a rating of 4 out of 5.  It is fast at removing snow once the operator learns how to work it properly.   I need to make a few adjustment to the machine but over all I think it was worth the $170.00 investment.  I’m not sure why it happens but it seems the more prepared you are for something the less likely that disaster happens.  Perhaps it because us humans “toss off” any disasters we are prepared for and get stupid when we are blindsided in a disaster.

I never heard of anything called “traction sand” but that stuff is the bomb!  It seems to be a very fine grain sand but it adds traction much better than most sands.  My tube D&B  sand is mostly about adding weight and that is good but if you want an alternative to salt for traction.  Buy “traction sand”.

I bought a little sled today so I can haul wood to the front porch.  While I used the snowblower to clear a path, using the garden wagon to haul wood can be problematic.  Hard work for those wheels to go through snow.   My ropes for clothes line drying  got snuffed with the vinyl siding so I’ll use those ropes on my sled.

I ask myself many time why?  I don’ try something outside my comfort zone. Oh I have gone through all the excuses of I’m not attractive or I’m disabled or I’m to poor to do it.

I’m somewhat prepared if things go sideways. I know my limitations but I can stretch to reach a new pinnacle  of what I can and can’t do daily.

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?”

 

Winter snow prep finished up

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We are getting a couple of inches of snow and the temps are starting to drop at night into the low 10-20 degrees F.   Time to complete the last adjustments for winter.

The wood pile:  Moved a lot of very dry hardwood to the front porch wood rack.  I filled up the garden cart with dry hardwood and have one wood rack almost empty.  That empty rack will be stacked with the new pine wood from other racks which will let me get to to the old dry wood underneath the new pine fire wood.  It will take some extra effort to move the pine but having a mix of wood in the house and on the front porch rack makes the wood stove burn much better through out the day.

I think my biggest mistake on the pine wood was the assumption that a “kiln dried ” wood would stay dry and not suck up moisture from the air or from the ground.   As it has not turned off cold and dry yet this winter that pine really sucks up the moisture around it.  The kiln dried pine seems to be slowly drying out now.  As I move the pine to empty racks get at the older dried wood, the pine will be given time to dry out naturally and should be great for a hot fast fire next season.

The best things done this year for the wood pile was remove the leaky roof, build the simple wood racks and cover the wood with tarps.  The roof was rotting so it wood soak some of the dry wood and then all the wood around it soaked up the moisture.  Placing wood directly on concrete also allows wood to soak up moisture unless the concrete is sloped properly.  My concrete slab does not drain properly so I got wet wood last year.  With most of the leaky/rotted OSB roof removed the wood pile traps get southern sun and the space acts like a mini wind tunnel with the prevailing winds.  The wood pile still needs some work but I’m confident that heating the house this winter is very doable with the wood on hand.

Snow removal:  I sprinkled out a thick layer of snow melt today and the side walk in front yard and area stayed clear of ice build up.  Pre-treating your sidewalks with Ice melt makes shoveling snow easier as the Ice melt keeps the snow from bonding to the concrete.  We have had a couple of inches of snow fall on a couple of different days so no reason to test out the snow blower.  On the first snowfall my little battery powered leaf blower did a great job clearing the sidewalks.  For the backyard walkways I got the sand in a bucket (50 pounds of sand fits easily in a 5 gallon bucket)  I added a large cup to apply the sand along the side walks rock ways for traction.  I use sand as I did not find an Ice melt formula that did not hurt my dog’s paws.

All that is left to do is add a sand tube or two over the rear wheels of our vehicles for added weight and traction.  My Kia minivan has front wheel drive but those sand tubes seem to help keep the back tires on the road and keep the back end of the van from wanting to shift places with the front end.  I got Mom a little battery jumper pack and small air compressor to inflate tires for her Explorer for Xmas so she should be covered for any minor vehicle emergencies.  Also the little power pack can charge a cell phone, laptop and other devices.

I wish you all have a great holiday season with friends and family.

Woot! the splitting maul works!

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I did not buy a traditional splitting wedge.  I bought one of those wedges that have a sharp point and a cross shape.   That shape makes this wedge very easy to start in the wood chunk but I don’t think it spits the wood as quickly as a traditional wedge.

I was a bit concerned when I got about 1/2  of the wedge buried in the chunk o wood and did not see any splitting cracks.  After a few more whacks with the 4 pound sledge hammer I started seeing the wood split.  This wedge never tried to break to the left or right if I did not hit it square with the 4 pound sledge hammer or the 6 pound splitting wedge. This wedge really buries it self into the wood before it splits the wood.  Good news the pine burns pretty good once it is dry or has a little help burning with the addition of hard wood.

I would recommend this type wedge along with a 4 pound sledge hammer or 6 pound splitting wedge to split a few big chunks of wood if you are disabled or not very strong.  It takes more time but not as much effort compared to using a regular maul and heavy duty sledge hammer but I can split larger chunks of wood.  A huge plus is I would not be able to burn those big chunks of wood unless I could split them into smaller sizes.

Mom and I did not do much in the way of Xmas lights this year because I did not want to drill into the new siding.  I picked up some hooks that are supposed to fit under the edge of the vinyl siding but my siding does not lift up and is to tightly installed to admit those hooks.  This is a good thing as the siding does not give the wind a way underneath to lift the siding off the house.  When Xmas stuff goes on sale I’ll add new lights and this summer I’ll get the clips that attach to gutters and along the roof line.

We are getting snow so we may have a “White Christmas”.  Mom bought a Ham for Xmas dinner. It’s strange  as I don’t have to cook Xmas dinner. I have a Prime Rib ready for New years eve and a couple of New York roasts to cook next year.  I can always find a special occasion to cook up a good roast or steak.  We got a little snow today but it is still somewhat warm and no freezing rain so that is good.  I put out a little ice melt on the front yard sidewalks to help with traction.  Other than that I’m not getting aggressive on snow removal.   Still early days but I suspect we won’t have a lot of snow or freezing rain this year.  If things go all sideways I can try out the new snow blower if not I can lay down sand to fill in the new driveways.   This is a win/win situation.

The house Mom wants to buy, got a lot of work done to get it appraised for her loan but it looks like it will early JAN. 2018 before the paperwork is done. The sellers installed a new tub faucets and shower/bathtub surround and a few other fixes.  A lot of people are working to get this house sold so I’m feeling very hopeful about the house.  Most of all Mom really likes this place.  She will have over an acre of land but still be in a small town and at most a 30 minute drive from my house.

Something to think about getting is USB powered devices.  I know why would you look up a fan or whatever to your PC USB ports as it seems silly.  Have you noticed how many items run on USB power connections?  Have you noticed how cheap those USB rechargeable battery packs are today.  Have you noticed how many small/ fold able solar panels charge up stuff via USB ports?  Heck most little solar panels or USB battery packs brag on how many times they can recharge an I phone or kindle/Android device.   I recommend you all start small and invest in a 10-15 watt  foldable solar panel cost about $50.00-60.00 USD and then buy USB power banks as cheaply as possible.  That will give you coms some light, possibly fans and a little bit of power that you are in control of, even if it is a bit iffy.

I spent $65.00 so Mom had a power pack that would jump here vehicle easily.  It also has a little air compressor and a couple of USB ports for charging.  I had a dying battery and I used my little jump RAV power almost daily until I could afford to buy a new battery.  Think outside the box on power. Even a small power bank that is rechargeable via solar is a good choice for energy.

PC maintenance, tools and a new car battery

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I have added a few more items to help take care of my PCs and laptops.  I picked up two 2TB external hard drives to make backups on all the computers in the house.  One of the hard drives is for Mom and one for me.   I’m  amazed by how small these drives are compared to the old hard drives and with Windows 7 the backup was  relatively fast and easy.  I paid $64.00 for each Seagate drive via newegg.com.  Data storage is so cheap now and backing up data so simple, it doesn’t make sense not to back up data on an external hard drive.

I splurged and paid $5.00 for an external DVD RW drive and have been uploading some of my old video games.  I loaded Unreal Gold on a Win 7 PC and the game looks great.  Unreal Gold came out around 2000 so I’m having a lot of fun revisiting all those older PC games.

Since we don’t the old floppy drives or even CD’s much  for data storage/file transfers I got a couple of 64 GB USB thumb drives for that little problem of having a portable storage system that fits on a key ring.  I still remember building my first PC when a 5 GB hard drive would set you back several hundred dollars back in the 90’s.  Now I have a USB drive on a key ring for about $25.00.  Gosh isn’t competition a wonderful thing?

I picked a wedge for splitting the larger chunks of wood and some files to start putting a real cutting edge on my splitting maul.  Once I knock off some of the excess metal then I can get out my sharpening stones and put a good cutting edge on all the axes.

Oh gosh I spent a couple of hours getting my slow leaking tire fixed and replacing the old battery on the Kia.  I had a small revolving credit account with Les Schwab and it became in-active after 3 years of not using it.  So I needed to re-activate the account. I just paid for battery in full rather than fuss with credit.  Credit being easy but not always simple was really brought home to me as I stopped by the grocery store and a young gal attempted to pay via her smart phone.  I guess this is now a thing!  Well her smart phone did not work so well and she drug out her plastic card.  I just paid in cash again!

Good news is I have started  building up the Emergency fund this month.  I did not really expect to start building it so early as I figure Jan. 2018 would be the month to start building it up.   Speaking for myself, now I know the value of the Emergency fund rather than just scrambling financially to pay the bills when emergencies happen.  Having the cash on hand to pay for my stitches and getting the doggie dental work done made my life a little less stress full.

Last but not least I picked up 6 pairs of merino wool socks and some more leather work gloves.  Keeping your hands and feet warm and protected is critical at all times but particularly in the cold of winter.  Last year my feet got wet and cold which made me miserable.  This year I got good warm/ waterproof boots and adding leather work gloves to the jersey cloth gloves in my stock pile.  It was a bit more expensive buying the boots but they are only used 3 months of the year so the boots should last a few years before needing replaced.

I placed the thermal barrier bubble wrap on the back entry way and Diana the peke loves it.  She sleeps there all the time.  Plus the other dogs seem to like hanging out in the door way.  Thermal wrap adds about a R-4 value but it is awesome for cutting down drafts. Plus you don’t break the bubbles of the internal bubble wrap walking across it.

Oh! I just remembered I have the new door handle and dead bolt for the front door.  This is a mostly cosmetic replacement of hardware but I’m using 2.5 to 3 inch deck screws to tie the lock into the door studs and not just the door frame wood.  Oh any persistent “Bad Guys”  could bust the door down but why bother when there are so many easier targets?

Burning pine in the wood stove

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Getting wood this year has been a challenge.  I thought I had a good supplier and I even paid upfront for a wood delivery to help him get his pickup engine re-built so he could deliver wood.  I have not heard a word from that guy since February.

About August I’m starting to get nervous as I have not found a new wood supplier so I get put on a waiting list for pine to be delivered later….. Maybe!

Huzzah! I get get a new wood supplier from a friend recommendation and the wood looks pretty good as it is mostly hardwoods in the first cord that is just a little small but the price is great!  Oops! turns out the guy may be facing felony theft charges and the cops have a warrant for his arrest. I’m running out of options to restock my wood racks for this winter heating season so I call up the folks about the pine delivery.  Huzzah they will deliver a full cord of pine that fills my wood racks.  The people that delivered the pine were great very honest and open about pine not being the best firewood for wood heat rather than just a “decorative” fire in a fire place or wood stove.

Mom and I have learned a lot about burning pine and it has not been fun.  It seems with the Ponderosa pine we got is we get to types of fire.

  1. A “smudge” type fire that just sort of smolders and smokes without putting out a lot of heat.
  2. A “bonfire” with lots of flame that burns out quick with the damper wide open.

I’m not some sort of wood burning purist as I can usually find the positives along with the negatives of burning different types of wood but I’m not finding a lot of positive thing to say about burning pine for heat.

I did have a some very positive wood buying experiences.  The guy that delivered the mill ends was great!  Yeah it was just a ranger pickup load of mill ends but he stacked the wood in the bed rather than just dumped it in the box.  So I got a lot more wood than I anticipated.  The people that delivered the pine say they will have Douglas/ Red fir starting in in May next year so I can get an early start on my wood pile for next winter.

Last but not least I still have quite a bit of leftover wood from last year that is finally dried out from last spring.  The problem is almost all of that wood is under all the pine wood I stacked on the wood racks.  Now Mom and I are re-stacking the pine to get at the older dried wood. There is a lot more leftover wood from last year than I thought originally.  Now that I have enough wood racks next year I can fill/rotate the older dried wood and fill up the new wood racks rather than just stack the new fire wood on top of the older fire wood.

I don’t know if this is a thing with kiln dried wood but the pine that was kiln dried seems to suck in moisture like a sponge.  In SW Idaho we have had inversions and a very humid (for us)  winter.   My thinking is the kiln drying may open up the wood cells to dry might make those wood cells open to moisture once the wood is out of the kiln.  I’m not going to throw the pine in the trash but I’m going to use last year’s woods and give the pine time to dry naturally.

UPDATE:  Putting the thermal barrier down on the back entry way floor has made a huge difference in the feeling of warmth in the back part of the house.  I can’t say the area was drafty but it was a cold sink that was noticeable, and the temp in the back part of the house is averaging about 2+ degrees F. warmer compare to before adding the thermal barrier.  That may not sound like much but, that 2 degree difference can create a drafty feeling.

House pictures!

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Front Entry

That pic gives a good idea of all the all the work done via the siding to the right as you are looking at the pic you see part of the new window installed. I did not have the porch windows replaced because of the additional cost.  The porch is protected but not insulated so it seemed a bit silly to invest in new windows for that area.

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This is the before pic after the roof was added

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North side of the house from the front yard. 

As you can see I need to paint the foundation area next spring or summer but I very please with the look of the siding.  Adding a stone fascia would be optimal but paint is a lot cheaper and faster.  My local True Value store has matched both the red and grey colors on the house so I will probably get a red paint for the foundation that matches the red accents.  I’ll be adding the new door lever and dead bolt to the front door once I get paid next week.  I’m going with an aged bronze finish like I installed on the back door.

Other happenings:

My neighbor is buying the large rounds of wood that I got but wasn’t split.  The neighbor is a burly guy and I’ve seen him split wood so this give me more space for wood and the neighbor get some great wood late in the season for a great price.  With this wood and buying fruit (apple and cherry) from the local orchards staying warm via wood heat won’t be a problem.

Speaking of burning wood both Mom and I are learning how to burn split pine.  I have wood racks on a concrete base and when there is an inversion dry soft woods suck in moisture like a sponge. All wood is now up off the concrete and is covered on top by a tarp.  All of the wood ends are exposed to the wind for drying.  Here in the west we don’t have a lot of hardwood for burning.  I recommend stocking up on Douglass/red fir and hit the orchards for apple/cherry wood. Elm and locust can grow here but it a bitch to split.

Speaking of splinting wood I found a youtube vid of using a sledge hammer with an axe or splinting maul to split large rounds of wood.  It is not fast but it it should be doable for me if it works.  I have a few rounds I’d like to make smaller and if it works I can go out and pound on the logs without trying to muscle through the splitting the logs.

Last but not least I laid down thermal barrier on the floor of my backdoor entry way.   I think when it was originally installed it was a glass patio door and then enclosed.  The floor area sits on concrete and has very little insulation.   I added a rubber backed carpet and that helped some on the cold and heat from the concrete radiating hot in summer and cold in winter. I laid down Thermal barrier on the floor and cover with the rubber back carpet and we gained another 2 degrees of heat in the back room.  The carpet is not sliding around and the back part of the house is getting warmer as I type.

I don’t think the addition to my house was very well insulated so I have to insulate as money become available.  I’m not going to screw around ripping off the siding so that means I have to insulate from the inside out.  I’m not going to tear out drywall because  I feel a bit cool and semi uncomfortable.  I’ll make this as comfortable as possible then gather cash to make things more comfortable.

It is not like we are freezing to death.  Heck at worst the temp reading was 62 degrees F.  Hardly a precursor to the Apocalypse!  Add socks and put on a sweater is not exactly a sign of the end of civilization.

 

That Emergency fund did not last long…

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My little peke Tucker needed some dental work. Total cost for 2 visits, drugs and the dental surgery was just over $400.00.   Add in my little stitches and I have spent about $1300.00 on medical bills.  Isn’t that the way it goes when you finally get a good emergency fund built up you obviously must have an emergency so you get more practice building an emergency fund!

I’m whining just a little bit but I’m also grateful that I had the cash on hand to pay cash for all the bills that have happened the last couple of months.  I’m doing  good financially because I had the “fund”.  I paid all my bills a little bit ahead, added the load of pine and still have a little bit of money in the bank, plus some cash on hand.  So overall things are looking darn good going into winter.

Like any person there are things I would like to get or have on hand, but I can’t think of anything I need to have on hand!  I need to get much more proactive on having that little cash emergency fund on hand and start re-building  it next year. Having that emergency fund really reduced my stress levels on paying medical bills.

Mom is trying to finish up all the paperwork for getting the mortgage on the house and is just a bit mental about all the hoops she has to jump through to get it finished up.  She is on a bit of a time crunch because finishing the loan before Dec 31st will give a huge mortgage tax deduction and save her a lot of money taxes to the IRS next year. All we need is the paper work done this year and then Mom can do her paint, and little repair jobs on the house in Jan. 2018, then move her stuff into the house.  While I’ll hate trying to move her in winter, we will have the use of the 1 ton dually to make the move happen.  I want my shop back, but I don’t mind storing Mom’s stuff until she has cleaned up the house and has a place for everything before she moves it into her home!

It will sort of suck having Mom living in a small town 20 miles away as Mom and I get along pretty well and mostly enjoy each others company.  We will be gaining two bases for different types of disasters.  My home, in a small city with good rail and truck transport for supplies.  Mom will be in a small town with 3/4 of an acre of land in a small town will give us a place for small critters and a good size garden.  Our two places will give us a lot of flexibility for prepping/ self reliance.

The next thing I’ll be saving up for will be a small trailer and a hitch installed on my Kia mini van.  I can only haul about 3000 pounds but that should be good enough for most of the jobs I want to do around the house.  The hitch and trailer total cost should be under $1000.00 which is cheaper than buying a pickup truck.  Also I want to buy a small used sail boat and learn to sail.  Next year I’ll join the local sailing club and look for a small day cruiser type sail boat in the 20-25 ft range.  A small boat that is easy to sail but can be something I can anchor, take a break and rest on if I get tired.  A small little out board motor to get me to the dock/boat ramp if I I can’t handle the sails on local little lakes.

I was in the Coast Guard Auxiliary and know basic boating safety and navigation.  I have taken the basic ASA course.  I know enough to know I don’t know enough about sailing.

I’m disabled but I’m not dead.  I want to learn new skills and try new thing right up to the limits of my disability and also have a plan when I exceed those limits that are not safe, not only for me but those around me.  I want to push my physical limits. I don’t want to be stupid and endanger other people.

I suppose I have rambled on enough to give you and up date.  When we get better weather I shoot a few photos of the siding project and the new look of Casa de Chaos.

New door knob and dead bolt installed

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I have never changed a door knob or dead bolt before today.  Installing the new lever type door knob and dead bolt lock on the back door was a simple replacement job.  Changing from a standard twist knob to a lever type is easy just make sure you buy a handle that can be switched from left to right so you don’t get bound up by the door jamb/frame.  The door should be more secure as I replaced the 1/2 inch long strike plate screws with much longer screws that are screwed into the actual wood studs that frame the door and not just into finish wood around the door.

I did not lock the dead bolt at night on this door as the old lock was a key open system on both sides of the lock.  With the new dead bolt we have a simple knob we can turn on the inside of the door.  This dead bolt knob makes it much easier to get out the door in case of a house fire.

I know operating a door knob is not a big deal for most people.  Now I can grab that lever and give it a 90 degree twist/push to open the door.  The simple mechanics of a lever compared to gripping and twisting a standard round door knob is incredibly easier for me to use multiple times a day.  Plus the the new door hardware looks great on the newly painted doors and fits the new exterior very nicely.

One thing I noticed with hardware that is retro looking, such as the door levers rather that twist knobs or sink hardware levers/star type faucet fixtures is that hardware is more “Handicap Compliant/ ADA approved” compared to the average hardware around in many homes.  It is so much easier to push a lever open or close with an elbow or a hand that can’t grip as good as you age or get disabled.  Big plus is the hardware looks great in any type “look” you want in your home.  I know  now replacing a door knob is not a big deal.  Trust me getting your door open to get inside where it is warm and not fighting to get a grip on a round door knob can really cut down on the cussing!

Had an inversion in the valley this week and while it hasn’t been very cold, 30’s during the day and high teens at night the moisture of the fog  gives us chilly feeling.  The inversion has had an impact on how well the wood stoves burn and Mom and I are still trying to figure out how to use the wood stove since the house is better insulated and we have added more ceiling fans to move the air around.  I thought it would be simple this winter.  Nope, just different.

I need some help/info from you all if you make your own soft/wet dog food.  Mom and I want to make wet dog food and move the doggies off canned dog food.  I have a general idea of the grain to protein mix but I’m unsure of the vegetable matter that needs to be added and in what proportions.  Rice will be our primary grain and we will not use any sort of wheat products as our dogs do terrible on that grain.  We would be open to corn meal as a grain if you have used it for your dogs.  I also want to add fats like lard or beef tallow as I don’t have a warm a fuzzy feeling about most vegetable oils.

 

Scored! big time shopping this week

A new shop opened in the mall where Mom and I walk called the Yard Sale.  During the opening everything is $20.00 or less and Mom and I are grabbing a bunch of little items for backups or stuff we want around the house.

I’m a big fan of motion detection lights and I grabbed four  battery powered LED lights that light up when motion is detected for $3.00.  So far I placed one of the lights in the small bathroom that is working out great as a replacement light  for a quick hand washing or using the toilet without turning on the main bathroom light.  I placed the other light in a dark closet that holds coats, my vacuum cleaner and most of my DVDs.  It has been a nice surprise how a small LED light can light up a small area and make life a little bit easier.  I’m stocking up on rechargeable batteries but I  need another solar battery recharger. Mom bought several nice Solar motion detector LED lights and the most expensive one was $5.00 and it is a beast of light for brightness. Mom set the $5.00 light in a window for a couple or hours and it works great!

I got another small 14.1 megapixel digital camera.  It is a Vivatar and needed a memory card but for $5.00 who can complain?  Unlike my Olympus camera this Vivatar does not eat batteries when it is turned off.  I hope the shop will put out another camera for $5.00 but if not I’ll give Mom a camera so she has one when she gets her new home.

I got a nice little solder Iron kit for $10.00 though I need to add a heat sink and flux for it to be complete.  I have been wanting a soldering iron for small wiring repairs for a long time and this looks like this kit is a good basic starting setup.  I learned basic soldering in the Army for repairs so I can do simple repairs like reattaching wires that come loose on small stuff.  It is amazing how many things you can repair if you can just solder a wire back where it belongs.

I got an incredible buy on a 50 foot, 30 amp 10 gauge wire RV extension cord for only $20.00.  If you have bought an extension cord lately you know what a bargain that sucker was compared to buying it in a home improvement store or RV/marine store.

We are burning the pine and it does generate a lot of ash. It turned of a bit colder in the 20 degree F. range and Mom and I are still learning how to feed the wood stove so we keep a good temp without getting so hot we need to open a window to moderate the temp. in the house.  I added thermal backed curtains on a new heavy duty round curtain rod to my drafty backdoor entry way.  Get round curtain rods even if you have to splurge as they are a joy and super easy to open and close those curtains even if you are using “hooks”  on your curtains.  Even with good windows, blinds and thermal curtains help insulate your home.

Games are a good thing.  I  love the look of Cuphead and it is very tough to play via PC and a keyboard.  I got a game controller and it took some time but go into your Steam setting and setup the controller first before you set up the controller in Cuphead.   Yeah my hero is still a suicidal little maniac but at least I make a little more progress before the character offs himself.

I got a load of pine delivered.

All of the wood racks are full and I have some wood I stacked in the walk way between the wood racks that I still need to get stacked.   The weather is supposed to be clear and somewhat cool so I have a few days to get all the wood stacked for winter.

Very nice gal dropped off the wood but it took me 3.5 hours to get most of the wood stacked and my body is only good for about 2.5 hours worth of that kind of physical work.  Mom came out and helped me finish getting all the wood inside of the wood storage area.  One great thing about this wood delivery I got one wood rack about half full of kindling size wood  plus a box of kindling dropped off from the wood delivery folks.  Thank goodness there is no need to chop up kindling for awhile as it will probably take me two days to recover from stacking wood!

A couple of the new round curtain rods got hung and so far they are working out great.  Even the curtains that use the hooks are moving easier compared to the cheap rectangular type rods.  I recommend that you space the curtain rod brackets a few inches wider than the old bracket hardware. You can spread out your curtains and the window seems larger but you can still close off the window for privacy or to retain heat.

I sewed, actually I just darned up some holes in some sweats.  I have tried repairing the holes before but I used very cheap thread from a dollar store sewing kit.  Lets just say the previous repair jobs were less than satisfactory.  Hard to blame the “sewing kits” as they are for temporary fixes.  Buy good quality thread is probably a no brainier for those of you that sew, but as a newbie to the fabric repair thing it has been an educational experience for me.

My kitty cottage does not seem to have a day time resident or sun basker but the food is eaten and we are trying to keep fresh water for the cats that wander through the yard.  A couple of the cats have let us touch them so not all are feral.  The yard might just be a good spot for the cats to be safe and grab a snack.

The house Mom is looking at has a couple of issues discovered via the home inspector.  Mom likes the house but she either wants the issues fixed or the price dropped so she can fix the issues.  No biggie either way as I really don’t want to help her move winter again.  Moving sucks bad enough without adding ice and snow to the mix.

 

I got a load of pine delivered.

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All of the wood racks are full and I have some wood I stacked in the walk way between the wood racks that I still need to get stacked.   The weather is supposed to be clear and somewhat cool so I have a few days to get all the wood stacked for winter.

Very nice gal dropped off the wood but it took me 3.5 hours to get most of the wood stacked and my body is only good for about 2.5 hours worth of that kind of physical work.  Mom came out and helped me finish getting all the wood inside of the wood storage area.  One great thing about this wood delivery I got one wood rack about half full of kindling size wood  plus a box of kindling dropped off from the wood delivery folks.  Thank goodness there is no need to chop up kindling for awhile as it will probably take me two days to recover from stacking wood!

A couple of the new round curtain rods got hung and so far they are working out great.  Even the curtains that use the hooks are moving easier compared to the cheap rectangular type rods.  I recommend that you space the curtain rod brackets a few inches wider than the old bracket hardware. You can spread out your curtains and the window seems larger but you can still close off the window for privacy or to retain heat.

I sewed, actually I just darned up some holes in some sweats.  I have tried repairing the holes before but I used very cheap thread from a dollar store sewing kit.  Lets just say the previous repair jobs were less than satisfactory.  Hard to blame the “sewing kits” as they are for temporary fixes.  Buy good quality thread is probably a no brainier for those of you that sew, but as a newbie to the fabric repair thing it has been an educational experience for me.

My kitty cottage does not seem to have a day time resident or sun basker but the food is eaten and we are trying to keep fresh water for the cats that wander through the yard.  A couple of the cats have let us touch them so not all are feral.  The yard might just be a good spot for the cats to be safe and grab a snack.

The house Mom is looking at has a couple of issues discovered via the home inspector.  Mom likes the house but she either wants the issues fixed or the price dropped so she can fix the issues.  No biggie either way as I really don’t want to help her move winter again.  Moving sucks bad enough without adding ice and snow to the mix.

 

Painted doors, new locks and sharper axes

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The dense foam rollers did a great job on my metal doors.  I don’t see any brush strokes on the finish. My aunt stopped by today and she thought I had installed a new door so I guess that job is complete!

Of course now that the door looks new, all of the door hardware needs to be updated  I’m change to a lever handle rather than using the twist knob type of hardware.  The lever type door hardware is much easier for me to operate when my hands go wonky or when carrying stuff inside the house.  The original door knobs from when I moved in are starting to get loose inside because of wear and tear of the last couple of decades since installation.  I can’t afford to do a full security retro-fit but I can add much longer screws to the lock plates and tie them into the door studs rather than using the short screws that just drill into the door frame.  I can’t stop someone determined to get in but I can make them take a bit more time and be a bit more noisy if they want Breaking and entering my house.

Mom and I are slowly gathering new curtain and blind hardware around the windows.  I have picked up several of the round decorative curtain rods to replace the old rectangle/cheap rods.  Adding the new rods will make opening up the curtains much easier compared to what I am using at this time.  With new windows I want it to be easy to open up and see outside.

I got my hatchet and single bit ax sharpened up.  I generally use the single bit ax to cut kindling and split the bigger chunks of wood.  While some people claim a dull ax is better for splitting wood I disagree.  A sharp ax is like a sharp knife as it safer and more effective cutting wood.  I also found out why my splitting wedge just “bonked” off chunks of wood.  There was no sharpen edge on the ax edge at all.  I have seen garden shovels with more of a cutting edge than this splitting maul had on it.  I assumed that a “splitting wedge” ax would have at least a some sort cutting edge but I was wrong.  It’s not all bad news, as now I will have to get some files and learn how to put a cutting edge on an ax.

Another lesson learned splitting soft woods like pine or Douglass fir, it is best to split from the outside/bark side in and with harder woods like maple it’s best to start in the middle and go with the grain to split from the inside out toward the bark outside.  This an early theory of mine as my wood splitting time is  physically limited but so far it seems to have proved out on splitting fruit woods I have on hand.  The maple wood that I have at with an ax will split easily if I go with the grain of the wood.

I have not tried the newly sharpened hatchet on the “mill ends” to make kindling.  It will be an interesting test to see how the hatchet does going through a mix of  hard and soft woods used for “mill ends” I had delivered.

The new Kitty Cottage seems to be water-resistant if not water tight.  The food bowl is getting emptied and the water bowl is easy  for Mom and I too clean and refill.   So far it has been very warm this fall compared to last year so a warm enclosed sleeping spot has not been a high priority for the cats.  The cats are still showing up for mice/ hunt the little birds and have a guaranteed meal of kitty kibble.  All the cats have to evade is my small house dogs.  Most of these cats look very healthy so they may have owners that simply let them roam.  As they say cats don’t have owners, they have staff!

Painted doors, new locks and sharper axes

The dense foam rollers did a great job on my metal doors.  I don’t see any brush strokes on the finish. My aunt stopped by today and she thought I had installed a new door so I guess that job is complete!

Of course now that the door looks new, all of the door hardware needs to be updated  I’m change to a lever handle rather than using the twist knob type of hardware.  The lever type door hardware is much easier for me to operate when my hands go wonky or when carrying stuff inside the house.  The original door knobs from when I moved in are starting to get loose inside because of wear and tear of the last couple of decades since installation.  I can’t afford to do a full security retro-fit but I can add much longer screws to the lock plates and tie them into the door studs rather than using the short screws that just drill into the door frame.  I can’t stop someone determined to get in but I can make them take a bit more time and be a bit more noisy if they want Breaking and entering my house.

Mom and I are slowly gathering new curtain and blind hardware around the windows.  I have picked up several of the round decorative curtain rods to replace the old rectangle/cheap rods.  Adding the new rods will make opening up the curtains much easier compared to what I am using at this time.  With new windows I want it to be easy to open up and see outside.

I got my hatchet and single bit ax sharpened up.  I generally use the single bit ax to cut kindling and split the bigger chunks of wood.  While some people claim a dull ax is better for splitting wood I disagree.  A sharp ax is like a sharp knife as it safer and more effective cutting wood.  I also found out why my splitting wedge just “bonked” off chunks of wood.  There was no sharpen edge on the ax edge at all.  I have seen garden shovels with more of a cutting edge than this splitting maul had on it.  I assumed that a “splitting wedge” ax would have at least a some sort cutting edge but I was wrong.  It’s not all bad news, as now I will have to get some files and learn how to put a cutting edge on an ax.

Another lesson learned splitting soft woods like pine or Douglass fir, it is best to split from the outside/bark side in and with harder woods like maple it’s best to start in the middle and go with the grain to split from the inside out toward the bark outside.  This an early theory of mine as my wood splitting time is  physically limited but so far it seems to have proved out on splitting fruit woods I have on hand.  The maple wood that I have at with an ax will split easily if I go with the grain of the wood.

I have not tried the newly sharpened hatchet on the “mill ends” to make kindling.  It will be an interesting test to see how the hatchet does going through a mix of  hard and soft woods used for “mill ends” I had delivered.

The new Kitty Cottage seems to be water-resistant if not water tight.  The food bowl is getting emptied and the water bowl is easy  for Mom and I too clean and refill.   So far it has been very warm this fall compared to last year so a warm enclosed sleeping spot has not been a high priority for the cats.  The cats are still showing up for mice/ hunt the little birds and have a guaranteed meal of kitty kibble.  All the cats have to evade is my small house dogs.  Most of these cats look very healthy so they may have owners that simply let them roam.  As they say cats don’t have owners, they have staff!

New paint rollers and BBQing the turkey

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I got some of those dense foam paint rollers for painting the entry doors and giving a smooth finished look.  I’ll use a fine grit sanding block to knock down the paint strokes and get a smooth surface area for the paint.  Once the paint is done all that is left is to add the new door hardware then most of the House exterior jobs will be complete except for the gutter covers.  One very nice thing my siding guy did is dump out all the gutters and place the gutter at the correct angle for water flow, as he did the siding so the house is ready for winter.  Water dams should be less problematic this winter!

I changed up my easy access charcoal storage method to a small galvanized trash can.  The size of the trash can is perfect for holding the 40 pounds of chunk charcoal though the bag had some darn big chunks that were almost small logs.  This should work out great for making a good layer of  coals for cooking the turkey.  FYI if you brine and BBQ a turkey the meat take on a pink color so use a meat thermometer to insure you reach at least 165 degrees F. for a done turkey and let the bird rest in tinfoil, breast down for at least 20-30 minutes before carving.  While the bird is cooking I rotate it every 15-20 minutes and flip it every hour of cooking to ensure even cooking.  I keep a small pan under the bird to catch the drippings as well as add liquid to steam the bird during cooking.  You can add White wine, dark beer or vegetable stock the the pan to help cook the bird.  By BBQing  your bird you free up the oven to bake pies, rolls or casserole type dishes.  Leftovers: If you have any the shredded turkey meat makes great sandwiches or turkey tacos.   Trust me if you brine and BBQ a turkey you won’t get dry and tasteless white meat.

For the turkey brine figure about 1 cup of salt, 1/2 cup of sugar per gallon of  liquid.  I like using Apple cider for my liquid and then you can go nuts on spices you like for flavor.  Get your turkey out of the brine and give it about 30 minutes to warm to room temp before you throw it on the grill.  This is the time to add oils and spices to the bird directly.  I never have BBQed a “stuffed bird” but adding a few sprigs of rosemary, bay leaf, cloves of garlic or raw veggies to the cavity can add a lot of flavor.  If you must have turkey infused stuffing I’d get a small fire safe pan and place it below the turkey during the last hour/ 30 minutes of BBQing  to catch the drippings then stuff the bird during it’s rest time.

BBQing a turkey is very simple but it is not as easy as throwing it in a roasting pan in an oven.

Critter beds and painting the doors

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We got rain and a bit of wind the last couple of days and the kitty cottage did okay though I need to add a bit more wood to finish up the boxes.  I added a couple of those throws to the boxes and the kitties can “knead” the blankets into place.  The boxes are still a bit exposed but most feral/alley cats are very keen to have a good view at all times.

I bought a little pet bed and set it out for Tucker the little peke and he loves it!  Now the little guy can have a place in the computer room and not worry about getting stepped on.  Plus he always seemed to be sensitive to drafts and cooler temps.  In just one day of having his own little place for keeping warm and not getting stepped on when he naps. Tucker is much more relaxed and that has started to go through our little pack of dogs.

I bought a foam paint roller for finishing up the doors and a fine grade sanding square.  I want a smooth semi-gloss finish to the door paint with no brush strokes trails.  Some folks like that brush stroke look,  I think for the “Craftsman” look I want, a more clean/finished look is best. I’m pricing projectors for Xmas lights rather than hanging Xmas lights until I get a handle on the new siding.  Drilling or poking holes at random on my new house siding seems to be contra-indicated.

So far stocking up on Ice melt, snow blower and building up the driveways and wood racks has worked to appease the snow gods!  It will be some what damp for Thanksgiving but the high temps are in high 50-60 F. degree range.  You all in the Great lakes and NE are going to get hammered but so far the Inter-mountain West are getting off easy for the weather.  I ain’t getting cocky as the Cold tends to hit in January.  I’ve prepared as best I can and all I can do is wait and see what mama nature throws at me.

One great thing is the thanksgiving turkey will be cooked at the BBQ at almost 60 degree F. weather rather than freezing  weather like last year. Maintaining 325-350 F. on the BBQ is going to be easy in 50 +F. degree weather.  Usually I prefer snow to rain gbut after last year I’m good with rain after dropping drainage rock in the Driveway but I’m ready for the ice.

Critter beds and painting the doors

We got rain and a bit of wind the last couple of days and the kitty cottage did okay though I need to add a bit more wood to finish up the boxes.  I added a couple of those throws to the boxes and the kitties can “knead” the blankets into place.  The boxes are still a bit exposed but most feral/alley cats are very keen to have a good view at all times.

I bought a little pet bed and set it out for Tucker the little peke and he loves it!  Now the little guy can have a place in the computer room and not worry about getting stepped on.  Plus he always seemed to be sensitive to drafts and cooler temps.  In just one day of having his own little place for keeping warm and not getting stepped on when he naps. Tucker is much more relaxed and that has started to go through our little pack of dogs.

I bought a foam paint roller for finishing up the doors and a fine grade sanding square.  I want a smooth semi-gloss finish to the door paint with no brush strokes trails.  Some folks like that brush stroke look,  I think for the “Craftsman” look I want, a more clean/finished look is best. I’m pricing projectors for Xmas lights rather than hanging Xmas lights until I get a handle on the new siding.  Drilling or poking holes at random on my new house siding seems to be contra-indicated.

So far stocking up on Ice melt, snow blower and building up the driveways and wood racks has worked to appease the snow gods!  It will be some what damp for Thanksgiving but the high temps are in high 50-60 F. degree range.  You all in the Great lakes and NE are going to get hammered but so far the Inter-mountain West are getting off easy for the weather.  I ain’t getting cocky as the Cold tends to hit in January.  I’ve prepared as best I can and all I can do is wait and see what mama nature throws at me.

One great thing is the thanksgiving turkey will be cooked at the BBQ at almost 60 degree F. weather rather than freezing  weather like last year. Maintaining 325-350 F. on the BBQ is going to be easy in 50 +F. degree weather.  Usually I prefer snow to rain gbut after last year I’m good with rain after dropping drainage rock in the Driveway but I’m ready for the ice.

Stitches removed, Kitty cottage built

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Stitches were  removed on the 17th of November.  That was great as the stitches were starting to pull on the skin and were uncomfortable.  I still need wash the cut with soap and water and bandage twice a day but the pain has gone to down to minor annoyance levels and that is when I bonk it.  I really like using Doc in the Box for low cost treatment and speed of service.  My office visits and suture removal was only $60.00 cash so overall I think the $900.00 total cost was not bad though it really ate into my “Emergency fund”.  Well that is what an emergency fund is for i.e Emergencies.  Gosh if I had just walked into an Emergency Room and got care in 2-6 hours it would have cost at least a grand and gone up from there as a starting point if I was lucky.  My 10 day course of antibiotics only cost $18.00 at the Pharmacy because I paid cash.  Government and Insurance approved health care is very expensive!

Any hoo, I got out today and built the little kitty cottage for the cats hanging around.  The cottage still need a bit of detail work but it should weather resistant if not weather proof.  The cat we call “Dakota” watched me build and then ate a bit a food and checked out the area before going on her rounds.  I will probably need to make adjustment but at this time the area is out of the wind and somewhat insulated.  We have provided food and water.  Plus I built a platform for the cats to soak up the sun.

Mom to a spill and her ribs are a bit bruised so I had to get in wood and set the wood in a place she did not bend or get hit with much weight.  Taking a hard hit in the rib cage muscles makes even breathing sore and bending over to lift any weight can be brutal.

I loaded up the porch wood rack section with all small hardwood Mom likes for keeping the fire going.  The wood is about hip tall on her so that is an easy grab for her even with her rib ouchies.   I stocked up little fruit wood logs and some of the dried maple I could split.  I think I got a white maple but if it is wet it won’t split but if it it dry it will split easily just using a basic ax.   On the wet maple my sharp ax just buries itself into the wood and my not so sharp maul just “bonks” off the wood.  I need to sharpen my maul!  One thing I did notice if the maple wood is dry it is very easy to split.  After dealing with twisty Elm that is a blessing.  On burning dried poplar it seems about as warm as elm but a bit less ash.  but I had a lot of bark on my elm and no bark on the poplar.

I’m doing my best to prepare for winter.  I have 200 pound + of sand.  100+ pounds of salt.  I bought a snow blower and have added drainage rock too the drive ways around the shop.

Mom got an accepted bid on a small house and acreage in Marsing/Owyhee County.  Nothing is done until the paperwork is done but it looks like Mom will buy a small home and acreage in Marsing.  The paper work should be complete around the end of December.   I’m so excited for her to get a place with some land but still in town so she feels somewhat safe.  She can clean up the house and move in the stuff in the storage sheds when she has stuff prepped.  While I don’t want to get nasty,  my shop might actually become a work shop and not a storage area.

Great things coming at casa de chaos!

Lots of little jobs done on the to do list

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I got most of the blinds up and most of the curtains got a wash and rehung.  I can make some adjustments on curtains as Mom found a great curtain rod for my big window at a 2nd hand store.  I cleaned the blinds by setting them in the tub with very hot water and Dawn dish soap.  That cleaned off most of the tar/smoke stains with just a bit of scrubbing via a sponge or brush.  The small bathroom blinds cleaned up great and getting new replacement brackets has worked out great for the new window.  The nice thing about blinds as they can let in light but not let people look in.

I cleaned up my front porch light using a little CLR and a scrubby sponge.  The glass globe around the light cleaned up real good.  When I repainted the front door I saw how weathered the door hardware had become and it needs replacing.  I want levers rather than knobs to open my doors and for about $60.00 I can replace both doors hardware with a finish that will look good with the grey door up front and the red door in back.  Once I know the cost of stitch removal this weekend I’ll know what I can afford to retro-fit the access doors.  I may not be able to do a full security retro fit but I sure as hell can buy/install screws into my homes studs.

I did a of cleanup or at least moved all the trash wood away.  I want to build a good cat cottage for the roaming alley cat mousers.  I’ll re-purpose some wood crates and build a nice cedar wood basking area for the cats above the compost heap. Add a little radiant barrier for insulation and you have a great little kitty cottage. I saved some metal from the contractor so I should be able to make a dry sleeping space for the kitties.

House is holding heat great and a stitches update

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I have been blown away by how well the house holds heat since the windows and siding are complete.  My computer room now gets into the mid-70’s F. and retains the heat even after the wood stove burns out.  Of course it has not turned to cold in the valley since all the work was done but with the old windows heat would just leak out if we did not have plastic on the windows.  Mom and I are using a lot of the mill ends and smaller limbs for small fires and just to keep the firebox going through the day.  The only problem with that sort of fire is I’ll need to buy more of the mill ends for the rest of winter (for kindling) and too use next spring.  I have the materials for another wood rack and one more load of wood ordered for delivery this month.  That last load should fill up the main wood storage area and I’m storing the mill ends in a separate area that is easy access for adding more wood if needed this winter of spring.

I started painting the front door a grey semi-gloss that matches the color of the gables and frame work around the windows.  It is going to take a couple of coats of paint to cover up the old red door.  The worst part is the old door hardware looks kind of terrible against the new paint.  I have been looking at new locks and door levers rather than just the standard knobs.  Eventually I’d like to change all the doors to the lever type handles as they look great and are much easier for me to operate with my CIDP.  One thing I have become aware of since getting disabled is how much easier life can be if you retro fit faucets, door handles and other (ADA approved) hardware.  What is great is most of the hardware has a retro-look that fits with me going back to the original look of a 1910-20’s Craftsman House.

Update on the stitches: Every thing is looking good according to the doc in a box.  In a week I’ll get the stitches removed though it may take up to 6 weeks the cut to fully heal and give me another interesting scar.  The Doc in a box even asked where I got the bandage I was using to cover the cut.  The Walgreen’s brand of 3 inch x 4 inch knee/elbow bandage works great for covering a large cut and is very easy to apply.  I’m not sure if this is correlation or causation but when I started using Curad’s Anti-microbial silver solution  I noticed a significant reduction of pain around the injury site compared to using the little packets of anti- Bacterial cream I got from Doc in a box.  I believe but can not prove that the silver solution gel made a huge difference on how quickly this cut started healing.

Not to much more to add other than I got some tree limbs to cut up, more leaves to clean up and I have to install all of my solar motion lights.

The Siding is finished!

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OMG the siding looks great!  The guy that installed the siding, trim and soffits worked everyday including weekends from 9 AM till dark to finish the job.  Everyday he cleaned up the cut up siding materials so the pets did not walk over cut metal or vinyl siding.

We all hear stories of bad contractors but I have had great contractors, so far and those craftsman that do a great job need more good recommendations as they are a treasure.

Once I clean up the yard and paint the exterior doors to match the new paint scheme. I’ll post pics of the finished job.  My Contractor was a bit dubious about the red corner post I demanded but after seeing it today he loves the look of it.  My siding guy said the house looked like a throw back to the “Americana” look.  Rather than using a glaring Red, White and Blue, I chose muted tones of barn red, cape cod grey and a subdued blue.  No pale pastels but colors that are strong but weathered and with a history.

I recommend you always get at least 3 contractors to bid a job and check out their references.  Once you find a good contractor then you ask who they would recommend for other jobs like electrical.  I found several great companies that do work homes but I also did the work of getting several bids before any work was done.  Most of the bids I accepted were in the mid-range price wise.  Remember if it sounds to good to true it probably is not true.  Learn some DIY skills and be familiar with the cost of basic materials for home maintenance.  I’m still learning how to do stuff around the house but I know the basic costs of materials needed to do a job.  These things take some effort on your part but it will save you a lot of money long term.

On to my stitches in my upper left hip area or my butt. While a bit extreme it does show how a simple fall can screw everything up as a prepper.  I’m probably going to pay around a grand on this medical issue.  At this time that is cheap as I’m using a “Doc in a Box” and did not go into an Emergency room.  I went to Walgreen’s and bought the biggest most flexible bandages on sale.  Athletic tape is not the best tape to use when you have a gash with stitches though I think it would be great for splints.  I’m probably replacing the bandage twice a day after washing with soap and water.  That may be more than what is needed but it is my ass I’m protecting and me not getting sick from infection.  So I’ll spend a bit extra on not getting an infection.  The tetanus shot did not set a flare up of my CIDP.  Though I do seem a bit sleepy and less energetic.   Well it is to be expected after taken a big physical hit.

Tried out the Walgreen’s 4×4 absorbent/drainage bandage.  Wow, this is a great bandage as it has a double thickness of gauze area over the wound. Also very easy to apply. Hey if I do dumb stuff at least I learn how to treat it.  You all can learn without doing my dumb stuff.

I cut my butt!

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Actually I took a spill that made a rather large and nasty gash in my upper left buttocks fleshy part.  I’m fine though getting it stitched up a the local Doc in a box was a bit pricey! By the time I get every thing paid for I can say I have a thousand dollar “piece of ass” LOL.

Lessons learned:

  • Have your 1st aid supplies (Boxes) set up for different situations.  I had plenty of supplies for cuts  but it was all mixed in with cough syrup and vitamins and other stuff.
  • Make sure everyone knows where those supplies are located and have easy access to grab what they need and they don’t have go searching all preps to find them.  I was aware of where things were located but my Mom only had a general idea about location.  Label your storage and make sure the items you need in most  specific emergencies are located in one spot.   I’m going to set up my prep boxes for different sorts of 1st aid such as Preventive stuff like vitamins and tooth brushes. Cuts and broken bones, flu upper respiratory and stomach issues.  There will be some over lap but when you need to stop bleeding digging through Imodium or vitamins when you need gauze and tape  is not helpful.
  • People tend to get very excited when there is bleeding even if they don’t panic. My dogs even picked up I was injured so accept that people will get at least some what excited if they have to deal with an injury.  Telling someone not to panic won’t make them not panic.  If you are prepared for an injury will keep most panic/ excitement too a minimum.
  • If you need stitches or staples get them done within the 12 hours of the injury.  After that time frame you will have to do a lot of work to keep the wound bandaged and clean from infections.  Because I waited to have the wound stitched, I will have 2 weeks before the the stitches are removed and a possible 6 weeks before the wound is fully healed.  You can use bandages changed daily rather than stitches but it will take the wound more time to heal, also it will need more day to day care.
  • I went to “Primary Care” doc in a box.  Over all I think they are a great doc provider especially if you pay cash!  The VA would not have provided payment if I went to an Emergency room as it was not a Service connected injury.  While not cheap the “Doc in the box” has been much cheaper than an Emergency room visit.  I think getting basic health care via “Doc in a box” and paying is much smarter financially rather than dealing with insurance co-pays or Obamacare.
  • Last but not least I did get my tetanus shot so I’m protected for at least 5 more years of doing stupid stuff.

The new siding is almost finished.  Probably a couple more days and the job should be done.  I muted the colors a bit but I kept the red corner posts and corbel wrap.  I think the deep red corner posts makes the rest of the muted colors “pop”.  I need to paint the doors to match the house but that should cost less that $30.00 in paint.  I want to invest in a gloss or semi-gloss enamel for the doors paint.   Also the guy that is doing the siding install resided  my doggie door. His attention to detail is phenomenal.

We have a new cat hanging around shop and is a bit feral though very sweet.  The cat is black and gold so we are calling it Dakota.  We are trying to give it a safe space so the cat will “mouse” the shop. I want to build a cat box and basking area in the future but for now I just want the critters fed, watered and warm.

Welp off to take a real bath and try and apply the bandages to my butt.

 

Another wood rack complete, most of the fascia and soffets are done.

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I got another 1/2 cord delivered via the Wood guy and it was mostly maple hard wood so I’m not unhappy about that delivery.  The next 1/2 cord is supposed to be red fir so that should give me a good mix of wood to burn this year.  I’m a bit maniacal about getting wood on hand after last winter as I was scrambling to buy wood late in the season (for me).  Now that I have built the new wood racks I’m not sure on how to gauge how much wood I have on hand compared to prior years.  Extra firewood on hand and drying is a good thing, not enough firewood is a very bad thing.

The new windows are already having a major impact on how we burn wood.  It is very noticeable on how the new windows help the house retain heat.  We can let the fire go out at night and the house is still warm in the morning.  It is so nice to see the house getting tighter and the wind can’t suck away the heat via bad windows.  Mom and I are having to re-learn how big of a fire to make in the wood stove but it is a good thing as we need less wood overall to warm the house.  With the new ceiling fans to move air, we don’t have such a problem of cold spots around the house.  Early days yet, testing the windows and stove but so far it seems very positive.

The work on the siding has started and the colors are a bit muted compared to my original house colors I still think it will look darn good overall.  Having the house wrapped and the additional insulation factor of the siding this house should darn tight and will look great for years to come!  No more painting of the house. Huzzah!

Shopped a local Holiday Bazaar and got another kerosene lamp and a very cute mug tree for coffee.  Mom snagged a very nice curtain rod and a pet door for her “future home” for $3.00.

There are a few things to clean up and get ready for winter but we have made a good start on those jobs.  Once the siding is completed we will post pics.  The before and after pics should be very significant.

Rebuilding the old wood racks and Siding starts on the 27th of October!

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I heard from my wood guy and have a cord of Fir to be delivered Friday. So I rebuilt one of the original 2×4 wood racks to for the delivery.  This guy gives me at least a full cord perhaps a bit more so I need to build another rack and organize my wood splitting and cutting area.  He is bringing me a new wood splitting stump that is shorter, which should make cutting kindling less physical-energy intensive.  With one more delivery I will be much more positive about my wood energy situation.  While I have been scrambling for wood sort of late at least for me.  My total cost for getting wood will be lower compared to last year.  If you are curious the windows and ceiling fans have already made a difference on how we use the wood stove.  The additional stack added to the chimney pipe has helped a lot though part of firing up the stove is heating the pipe so it draws properly.  Both Mom and I are learning how to get the wood stove burning to start and using wood so we are not driven out of house because it gets too warm.

The Siding and stuff arrived today and is sitting in the alley ready for the install to get started tomorrow. Looks like a good weather forecast of cool temps (55-65 F. for highs) but mostly dry into next week for the installation.

I had a yard of drainage rock delivered. While the delivery guy did his best to place the rock I have to say spreading the rock around via a shovel and rake is a hard job.  Once the siding is gone from the alley I’ll have the same company deliver some “road mix” to my driveways. That should fill in all the gaps between the drainage rock and hopefully control some of the flooding due to snow melt to a minimum.  My driveway and shop are at a much lower elevation compared to most places along the alley so all I can do is start adding drainage on top of the clay soil.  Adding a lot of sand just makes a terrible sort of concrete.  I was surprised how much drain rock was need to fill in the low spots in the drive way.  I knew it was bad, I just did not know how bad the driveways were sloped.

It’s a bit crazy around here but overall we are finishing up our winter preps. The windows have already made an impact or how we heat with the wood stove.  Getting a great price on fire wood and most of the wood racks are built to keep the wood dry. By Friday the racks will be filled and tarped (covered) to keep dry.  Overall it was more of a late start ( than I preferred) but we are catching up with a quickness.

TL:DR

Almost 5 cords of wood ready for winter. New siding/ insulation starting Friday, a fire wood delivery of Fir for the wood stove.  The new windows are awesome!

Most windows in and it is quiet in the house

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I had high hopes for the new windows helping with retaining heat in the winter or cold in the summer as I am trying to be as energy efficient as possible.   What I did not expect was how much “new windows” would insulate against noise.  Mom is very sensitive to noise but I sort of treated as a thing of living in a city.  Well noise is a part of city life, good windows really cuts down on the noise of city life.  There is one small window that will be replaced, Casa de Chaos is quiet.  I’m no longer hearing all the sirens from 5 blocks away nor the idiots at the 4 way stop and the bass thump a dump.

Ambient noise can wear down a person. While many people prefer to be stimulated constantly via noise of a radio/tv. I find the quiet rest full if a bit disconcerting this week. I supposed all those sounds kept my brain engaged at a low level but at best a sort of distraction.  I’m sure I’m explaining poorly but few people are no more ready for quiet than they are ready for a lack of city street lights.

I feel like the home is good solid but I feel like something I depended on has been snatched away in a good way but I still want those noise, I got used to having around.  If that makes any sense.  It’s a lot like shutting all the fans after installing the ceiling fans.  You don’t know how loud the fans are until you start turning them off.  I suppose it is like having an audio “cane” that kept you audio stimulated and then that cane was snatched away and you have hear the silence.  For myself it has been a an Awakening to quiet and listening to it.  It has been a little disconcerting getting used to the quiet but so far I like that I’m resetting my expectations. Overall not listening to the noisy-ness of the Outside world is good!

The folks that installed the windows were great sharing their knowledge on setting windows.  I learned a lot by asking simple questions and now I think Mom and I can add a window to the “Chicken house” that will be solid.   I’m no carpenter but adding the window should be simple if not easy.  All I need to do is cut one 2×4 to fit secure the window to said 2×4’s that I blocked out for the studs and then a simple plunge cut with the router.  I have the framing to hide all the screw ups of the simple cut out so we are good to go for that project.  I feared this project because I was so ignorant on putting in a window securely. Now I feel I can take a shot at the project.

Not a big job but I finally got the the Kitchen blinds hung correctly in the window frame.  Okay it wasn’t pretty but it wasn’t all that bad and the curtains hides all of my fixes.  No longer will raising the blinds in the kitchen entail a prayer and hope that the blind will spill into the sink.  It might seem like a small victory but life is filled with those small victories.

 

Most windows in and it is quiet in the house

I had high hopes for the new windows helping with retaining heat in the winter or cold in the summer as I am trying to be as energy efficient as possible.   What I did not expect was how much “new windows” would insulate against noise.  Mom is very sensitive to noise but I sort of treated as a thing of living in a city.  Well noise is a part of city life, good windows really cuts down on the noise of city life.  There is one small window that will be replaced, Casa de Chaos is quiet.  I’m no longer hearing all the sirens from 5 blocks away nor the idiots at the 4 way stop and the bass thump a dump.

Ambient noise can wear down a person. While many people prefer to be stimulated constantly via noise of a radio/tv. I find the quiet rest full if a bit disconcerting this week. I supposed all those sounds kept my brain engaged at a low level but at best a sort of distraction.  I’m sure I’m explaining poorly but few people are no more ready for quiet than they are ready for a lack of city street lights.

I feel like the home is good solid but I feel like something I depended on has been snatched away in a good way but I still want those noise, I got used to having around.  If that makes any sense.  It’s a lot like shutting all the fans after installing the ceiling fans.  You don’t know how loud the fans are until you start turning them off.  I suppose it is like having an audio “cane” that kept you audio stimulated and then that cane was snatched away and you have hear the silence.  For myself it has been a an Awakening to quiet and listening to it.  It has been a little disconcerting getting used to the quiet but so far I like that I’m resetting my expectations. Overall not listening to the noisy-ness of the Outside world is good!

The folks that installed the windows were great sharing their knowledge on setting windows.  I learned a lot by asking simple questions and now I think Mom and I can add a window to the “Chicken house” that will be solid.   I’m no carpenter but adding the window should be simple if not easy.  All I need to do is cut one 2×4 to fit secure the window to said 2×4’s that I blocked out for the studs and then a simple plunge cut with the router.  I have the framing to hide all the screw ups of the simple cut out so we are good to go for that project.  I feared this project because I was so ignorant on putting in a window securely. Now I feel I can take a shot at the project.

Not a big job but I finally got the the Kitchen blinds hung correctly in the window frame.  Okay it wasn’t pretty but it wasn’t all that bad and the curtains hides all of my fixes.  No longer will raising the blinds in the kitchen entail a prayer and hope that the blind will spill into the sink.  It might seem like a small victory but life is filled with those small victories.

 

Fire wood racks completed

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All of the pressure treated lumber has been tasked for the new wood racks and built for the wood delivery.  Now I will see if I get a true cord of wood or simply a “face” cord. My wood racks support about an 18 inch width, each section of wood rack will hold about a face cord or 1/2 cord of wood stacked.   I have plenty of 2 x 4s to stack wood if I get a true cord of wood.  Not the best solution but I have many 2x4s to make another wood rack if needed for stacking.   Great news on the electrical front the ceiling fans have helped cutting electrical costs this month.   This is helping with the wood heat but the new ceiling fans will make summer cooling cost much lower.

If you want to install a solar system you must make sure your home is insulated and do all you can to make sure the outside of your home is tight.  Honestly that usually means investing a lot of money fixing or replacing stuff around the house.  I took out a small home equity loan to do the work.  You might choose to pay down debt and then do the work.  There is no correct answer but what is right for you as long as you cover the basics.

I so want to get a battery snow blower but that is not in the budget.  So I’ll see how the snow blower works this year.  Gosh given an unlimited budget, you can do anything.  Us serfs must grab on hold and do our best.

The coffee can with some chain saw oil works dipping the small non-self oiling chainsaw.  Though you might not want to run the saw in the shop as the oil can splatter.  If you had to recommend an all round nail gun, what would you select? Be it a compressed air or battery powered?  I’l be doing basic work with 2×4’s and some 1/2 inch OSB/plywood.

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

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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.

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.

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.

Window install starting soon…

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Got a call from the contractor that the windows are now on hand ready to install, no later than  Monday the 23rd of October.  The Windows will be installed first (will take a couple of days)  and then the contractor can start on the siding project.  The weather here is okay about freezing at night but into the low 70’s during the day.  With the wood fireplace and a few space heaters Mom and I should stay plenty warm during the install.

More good news the fire wood guy that my Contractor recommend will deliver a cord of apple/cherry and then a cord of red fir for only  $ 160.00 per cord on Thursday the 19th.  That gives me time to build the basic fire wood boxes and measure the cord of wood delivered.  Two full cords of wood (4 ft. wide x 8 ft. long and 4 ft. tall)  is a lot of wood.  If it is just a “face” cord I will keep the order of Pine active and build more firewood storage! Apple and cherry are very nice burning hardwoods and Red/Douglass fir is about the best you can do for fire wood here in Idaho for a reasonable price.

Mom has been feeding some of the local alley cats that seem to be good “mousers”. The cats seem to like the new woodpile area.  I have the basement shelves built out of hollow core doors that might make a good cat box with just a little bit of blocking.  The area for the cats is fairly well protected from wind and dogs.  The cats have already adopted it as their space.  My cat Smokey seems to be good with the arrangement so far….

I started cleaning out the garden beds.  I tossed all the night shade plants in the wheelbarrow to be dumped and all the broccoli and cauliflower plants went to the chickens.  Tucker the peke (my digger dog) seemed a bit confused that we weren’t yelling at him for digging in the garden beds.  Tucker did not even try to dig up any of my Marigolds when given an open batch of dirt to dig in!  I suppose when your eye level is only 12 inches off the ground your perspective changes.

On to food prep I got a great buy on Pork chops.  Albertsons had them for $1.29 per pound this week.  So we have a good stockpile of frozen meats.  I still want to buy a small turkey in 10-13 pound rage but other than that we are good to go!

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.

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.

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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.

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!

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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.

 

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.