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!

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.

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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.

 

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.

 

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?

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?

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.

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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.

 

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.

 

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.

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.

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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.

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.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VA reinspection done, added another pressure treated wood rack

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Carpets cleaned with new Hoover Carpet cleaner.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Hoop jumping and more finishing up STUFF

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Cognitive Bias strikes again

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

VA is holding up my refi over paint chips

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

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

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

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

My house colors

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

house colors

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

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

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

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

So to wrap it all up or TL:DR

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

 

Got some shop clean up done

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Smoke!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last old shelf removed, Huzzah!

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

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

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

I plan, God laughs! Things are getting done.

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

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

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

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

 

Moving stuff to new shelves is tedious

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

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

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

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

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

Ugh! Siding is going to be expensive

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ugh! Siding is going to be expensive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Basement clean up and the exterminator.

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

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

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

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

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

Basement clean up and the exterminator.

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

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

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

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

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

Got the mister fans in time for the heat wave

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

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

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

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

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

Progress?

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

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

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

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

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

 

We got one job finished! Calling in the exterminators.

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

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

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

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

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

We got one job finished! Calling in the exterminators.

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

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

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

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

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

The new compost pile frame is done

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

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The old compost pile walls.

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The new compost pile walls

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Much prettier than old compost pile pallet walls.

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

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

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

 

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Excellent shopping day

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Effective puttering today. Plus tool shopping!

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

More cleanup hints and tips

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

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

Cleanup multi-taskers:

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

Things done this week:

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

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

Plan for this week:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Stopped the dogs pissing contest?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More cleanup news and finishing a project.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Basement cleanup started!

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

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

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

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

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