Finishing up the 7 year food barrels and some new water project ideas

April 23, 2014

I’m so excited that baring any more ” money disasters”  I can finish up the wheat barrel and get a start on the rice barrel.  One of the best bulk food buying sales coming up is for “Cinco de Mayo” and beans, rice, Masa and some meats/cheeses are either on sale or will be on sale at the start of May.  If you have been waiting for  good price to stock up on beans and rice the next couple of weeks should be a great opportunity!  Don’t forget about spices and jars of salsa/hot sauce to add some “flair” to your food storage.

Cash & Carry has a 50 pound bag of rice for $18.95 on sale till May 4th. I have budget the food budget to get 3 bags for the rice barrel. Adding that amount of rice to the barrel should give me a good idea of how much the barrel will hold.  I think it should be similar to the wheat barrel of about 300 pounds total.  Once all the barrels are filled and sealed shut I should have all of the bulk long term food I need for myself.  Cash & Carry has a case of coffee for just over $32.00 though the cans are on the small side at 27.5 oz.  Having a good supply of coffee before the prices go up again is very important not only for myself but as a barter/trade good.  Stocking up on the items before the new higher prices start can save a lot of money and give you time to adapt to the “new normal”.

Albetson’s is having another good sale on meats as well as the “fiora” brand toilet paper and paper towels. The fiora brand is 12 rolls of  TP or 8 rolls of paper towels for $2.99 with coupon. I prefer the 3 ply version of the TP for it’s strength and the paper towels are about average overall.  I’m trying to decide if I want to dip into my cash savings and buy up more meat. London Broil is $2.99 a pound and this is a great cut not only for a meal but for making jerky as it tends to be very lean. Bacon is also on sale at the “butcher block”  for $3.99 a pound. This is the bacon I like the best here locally and I noticed that even the cheap bacon/ends and pieces is starting to jump in price in the last week.  Local bacon I usually buy at Paul’s jumped over $1.25 a pound in the last week and the bacon ends and pieces is up $2.50 per 3 pound package in the last month.  Albertson’s has some pork chops for $1.88 per pound and about a month ago I could get them for around $1.29-$1.59 per pound. Chicken is still fairly cheap right now but I suspect it will also go up in price as people shift from beef and pork to chicken because of cost.  I think/hope that we will see somewhat low meat prices through the first part of May but I think by Memorial Day weekend all bets are off on meat prices and I expect a fairly large price jump.

On the water collection system I found a website that has some very cool ideas that make rain water collection easy if not exactly as cheap as setting up a rain barrel under a gutter . This sparked quite few ideas for me on collecting rain water efficeintly and moving it around as well as doing some basic filtering when gathering the rain water.  While doing this research I found there is a local company that makes custom molded water barrels and cisterns. The company makes a 525 gallon and a 550 gallon tank for $394.00 with only a 48 inch diameter footprint. Now that sounds sort of expensive untill you consider the cost of your basic 50 gallon water barrel and that you would need 10 + barrels to equal this one tank.  Another advantage of a larger water tank is the weight of the water itself would provide greater water pressure compared to a lot of smaller barrels. At 4 foot across these 500 +  gallon water tanks would take up about the same space as an average shipping pallet. Using 50-60 gallon water barrels I can only fit 3  on a pallet or about 150-180 gallons of water. For many people it’s not just money but storage space is a big consideration on how much we can afford to prep.  There is nothing wrong with starting off small and doing what you can afford. I’m a firm believer that taking the first step is often the hardest and being proactive. Don’t get complacent or be satisfied with that first step. I would have lost my my lawn if not my entire garden if that water main problem had hit me in July rather than in February.

Bit of a stomach bug and missed the Ham test but Mom passed!

April 22, 2014

Sorry to say I seemed have given Mom my bug. I thought the upset stomach was stress related and not contagious. Any way I  missed the Ham test this month.  Practiced sewing up some small holes on a pair of sweat pants and some undies. No fancy stitches just trying to make a descent looking repair and I seem to be getting a little better each time I practice.  I stocked up on clothing, mostly sweat pants, shorts, T-shirts socks and undies. So I could either throw the the “holey” clothes away or try out my sewing skills and make them last a bit longer with a bit of work.  Like everything else, clothing will last longer if you repair it when the holes just begin.  “A stitch in time, will save nine” ain’t just a cliche but real life. Also it seems to me that washing and drying will cause holes to expand so if you can repair the hole before tossing the clothes in the wash.  I look at these minor repairs as skill building and practice. It seems if the repair on clothing looks good it actually last longer than a bad looking repair.

I’m starting to feel a bit better,  though I stayed home and mostly puttered around the house Easter weekend. The Amber Ale got bottled and looks pretty good. Got a few days worth of wood standing by as the weather in SW Idaho can be mid 70′s and perfect and the next day the temp drops like a rock and it’s damp and breezy. I will add a load of the apple wood to the May 1st shopping list. Hopefully with the big  water bill paid off to the city the water costs will return to normal and I can start stacking wood a couple of loads per month for next winter.  The wood stove saved me a lot of money this last winter and made going without tap water a lot easier when the water main busted. Including the cost of wood it looks like the stove will payback in just under five years if electricity prices stay the same and I figure Idaho electricity costs will go up! I finally found out what the “Annual Adjustment”  payment I get on my monthly bill means. I used a lot less electricity this winter so Idaho Power decides I need to pay more because I am energy efficient and need to offset the lack of revenue that Idaho power is not getting from me.  This is an arbitrary and capricious fee as I see it. I so want to go completely off the electric grid because of these “shenanigans” utilities play.  It is crazy that as a person conserves or becomes more energy efficient and the first thing that happens is you get to pay more for using less!

I’m still here and kicking. I should be able to finish up the 55 gallon long term food barrels in May and have a couple of new ideas for water and energy that I will have to try out. Going to be an interesting and busy summer here at Casa de Chaos.



I got the price of the coconut oil really wrong it’s $100.58 per bucket

April 17, 2014

I thought the price on the coconut oil was to good to be true. Needless to say that oil did not get bought but I did get most of the other items on my shopping list. Yesterday I got three of the Prime Rib roasts cut and tied with the bones, one of the butt portions of Ham and two pounds of the butter. It was $93.00 at checkout,  I can’t remember the last time I spent almost $100.00 in one shot at a regular grocery store.  The freezer are almost full of meat but Mom and I are going can up the chicken at the end of the month so that will free up some space.  Today I did Mom’s shopping at Albertsons and got her some chicken, pork chops and butter along with a couple of cans of veggies for under $20.00.  I know the Prime Ribs are a little expensive but they are for “special meals”.  Looking at how quickly meat prices are starting to go up I think buying now will save me money later this year.

I got the gas cans and the small axe I had a rain check for at True Value.  I could only afford one can for myself and Mom wanted one so now all we have to do get them filled around the 1st of May. Hopefully the gas prices will stay stable and we won’t see a price increase before the 1st of May.  Not to much we can do about the price if it goes up.  I finish paying off the City for the water main leak this month. I thought about having the bill split over a couple of checks but I want at least this part done and over with completely. I don’t have quite as much money for savings but that money was for emergencies I just had to start using it a little earlier than I wanted.

If I don’t have any disasters in the next couple of weeks I should be able to make up the amount for the monthly savings plan. I will pay off the last of the Les Schwab credit account. I’ll finish up the car insurance  and start on the next 6 month premium.  The car insurance is cheap but having paid ahead seems to make my life a lot easier. That means two less monthly bills staring in June,  Huzzah!  If life can go some what according to my plans and I’m able to catch up in May, I will add the amount of those two former monthly bills to the wood stove payment. I want to get that loan paid off early. While taking care of the water main has caused me to adjust a few goals I’m sort of surprised that overall I’m getting back on my plan so quickly. If it wasn’t for the prices beef/pork going up so quickly this year I could have got back on schedule a bit quicker. Stuff happens and life can get messy fast!

Last but not least I’m brewing up a black ale. I’m playing with the recipe for the English porter but with a different hops and yeast. I think it should turn out good and it gives me a few different types of homemade beer fermenting.  Got to call my aunt and let her know about the coconut oil screwup and that I have spent grains for her goats.

Making some rolls and some good deals shopping

April 15, 2014

I  made Sci-fi Chick’s  30 minute bread  rolls and took closer to 45 minutes total but still very fast for yeast dinner type rolls. I made a mistake and added the egg to the liquid instead of the flour/dry ingredients.  I used the bread hook about 3 minutes to knead the bread and the rolls seem to get a good rise in the 10 minute rest time prior to baking. It took 15 minutes at 400 degrees F. to get golden brown in my oven and the rolls filed the 9×13 inch pan and look great.  I can see having these rolls for meals and sandwiches/ buns in a grid down situation and while there are a few more ingredients compared to the 5 minute artisan bread the eggs is about the shortest and even those can be stored for 6 plus months if coated with mineral oil or gathered daily if you have chickens.  The taste is your normal white bread taste and a very soft texture. I have become used to the very chewy texture of the 5 minute artisan bread so this might be a good recipe for those that want a softer white bread.  This recipe could work well as a frozen bread rolls if you froze the pan of rolls after the last ten minute rest, I bet you could wrap them up and thaw and bake them. Of course the rolls are so fast and easy to make that freezing might be a waste of time and freezer space.  I’m seeing a lot of stories on the financial pages that wheat/flour prices “futures” are going up this summer. What with the drought in the Midwest and the unrest in the Ukraine could see bread prices  go up quite a bit. Baking your own bread will save a lot of money right away as I figure with the cost of energy and the ingredients a one pound loaf of bread costs about 30 cents to make.

On to the shopping list for tomorrow.  Albertson’s is once again having a great meat sale starting on the 16th.  Prime Rib is $5.99 a pound which is one of the cheapest per pound costs I have seen this year.  I want to pick up three, 3-4 pound roasts for special/holiday meals and I think this will be my last chance to get a semi-reasonable price be fore beef prices get really ugly.  Been thinking about picking up a ham at 99 cents a pound on sale for Easter and freezing it considering how pork prices are starting to go up because of the “porcine virus” and add a few pork chops at $1.99 a pound. Land O’ Lakes butter is $1.88 per pound with a coupon and limit of two pounds. I can grab a couple of extra coupons and Albertson’s is only six blocks away so I can stop by several times this week.  Thank goodness I started buying meats on sale earlier this year and got the freezer is very well stocked.  A lot of people are starting to see the food inflation and are shocked about how much food costs have gone up. This is only the beginning and I think we are actually seeing the last of the semi-cheap stuff going on sale before the massive increase in price or downsizing of packages again. I work hard at shopping and saving money on food but I would not be surprised if the USA starts spending 20-25% of the monthly budget on food. While that is low compared to the rest of the world it’s very high in the USA and nearly double the average percentage of just a few years ago.  True Value Hardware store has a five gallon gas can for only $9.99 on sale till the 29th of April. This is a great buy most of the time these cans are around $20.00 and having fuel that is stored safely for the car, generator or tools should be one of your highest priorities. Just because spring is staring to show doesn’t mean you don’t need to worry about fuel supplies. Anyone that goes through a heat wave with out power for fans/air conditioning will tell you to much can kill you and at the very least make you miserable.

Got a few items that I want to get at Cash & Carry. One is the 5-6 gallon bucket of coconut oil primarily for soap making but it is a good multi-tasker oil for $31.73. That is about 35-40 pounds of oil for you preppers :)  I’d like to get a dog at the pound this month as Casa de Chaos is missing the dog pack and for a bit more security as things are starting to get a bit more “exciting”.

Irrigation water works Huzzah! Taters are planted

April 15, 2014

Been a bit breezy here at Casa de Chaos, looks like some high clouds are moving in which will screw up watching the lunar eclipse tonight. Had to fire up the wood stove this morning as it was a brisk 36 degrees F. outside and about 64degrees inside. I need to move another load of wood to the porch just in case it gets cold again. I have seen in snow as late as the middle of May here in SW Idaho so I need to stop being lazy and get that done. One thing nice about the “mill ends” is a quick, hot fire that is just perfect for taking the chill off in the morning. The navy beans and ham hock turn out to be just perfect for a very “Blustery Day” though I did not get Sci-fi’s bread rolls done the Artisan bread worked just fine. I have some leftovers so I’ll try out Sci’s bread rolls Tuesday.

I have irrigation water! I was starting to get a little punchy with all the water issues and almost afraid to see if the irrigation water would work. I’m not very pleased with the plumber’s attention to detail as my backyard gate is badly out of alignment and nowhere close to being level. It was nice to be able to just run a hose and water the tater buckets after planting. Note to self, label the taters prior to drying as a all dried potatoes look a lot alike. Haven’t setup the green house yet, with all this wind I’m afraid it will act like a sail and while I doubt I’d get lifted off the ground the green house could head for the next county. I used some of the excess dirt from the water main diggings and tossed the dirt into a rolling garbage can and it all looks pretty good and not compacted. I need to get out the rototiller and breakup the soil to start building it up naturally. I got the big Strawberry buckets outside and while one of the bucket’s strawberries are looking very sad the 2 little strawberry plants I got from the neighbor look great and I can transplant them into the bucket. Mom has another raspberry or blackberry plant to give away and I can take it as I’m sure I have a bucket and enough good soil to give it a shot at survival. Not sure if the berries will produce this year but they should do great next year!

Smokey has a new collar and is no longer running around nekid. I can still smell the flea oil on her old collar and don’t want to take the chance of some sort of residual poison from the old collar. I’ll try a little alcohol and another soak in Dawn dish soap and see if it will come clean. I told the people where I bought the flea oil about it being poison and now it is up to them. Been watching the local shelter and they have some really great dogs coming in lately. Saw the pic of a black German Shepard mix female and some nice looking pit/terrier cross puppies that might be a good fit. I wouldn’t mind a pit pup or one that I know is good with other dogs and cats. Sorry to say to many of the stray pits are taught aggression or have not been taught any “social skills” . If I raised them I think they would be fine and some of the sweetest dogs I have met are pits. The local shelter has a couple of specials coming up this month so I think I could get a good bargain or perhaps even a “free dog” depending on what’s available and a good fit.

Over twenty four hours and no disasters!

April 12, 2014

I did get quite a few things done yesterday to include cleaning the bathroom Huzzah!   I’m a little sore but I did get a good night’s sleep as everyone here seemed okay.  Smokey’s collar had a bit of that oil leftover on it so she’s going nekid until I get the collar clean.  My aunt stopped by to pickup the used beer grains for her goats.  The beer grains are a great source of protein for the goats and we think we can store the grains a bit longer by letting them drain in some of the large burlap bags I have and then seal the grains in 2 gallon zip lock bags that have most of the air removed.  My aunt is such a sweet person and doesn’t want me to go to a lot of trouble but I am happy to do some work in order to use those grains as feed.  The goats should eat the feed fast enough that it shouldn’t need to be stored for a long time and develop any mold and that should stretch the regular feed out.

Speaking of my aunt’s goats she had something similar happen to her like I had with Smokey the cat but she used a Prymethrin based flea killer. She got the goats washed down to get that stuff off of them and they are okay now but it really shook her. I gave her one of the small 9 oz. bottles of dawn dish soap to keep out where the animals are kept and told her about the great price of Dawn at the Family Dollar stores for refills. My aunt didn’t want to take the soap but heck it was only a dollar and if it can save an animal’s life it is well worth it. Plus she is always giving us free plants, soap and all kinds of goodies! My aunt tells me that benedryl also works on goats that have an allergic reaction.

Told a couple of neighbors about not using the flea gel on pets as well as all the good stuff DE could do against insects. Oh and one of my neighbors is starting a great paying job but will be working lots of hours so she gave me 2 little strawberry plants as she won’t have much time for gardening this summer. I’m getting a few of the buckets ready for the potatoes but being sore I’m taking it easy today. I tested out using the Burlap for covering the opening of my rain barrels and it seems it will work as a screen to protect against mosquitoes and gunk going into the barrels.  One thing I really try to avoid is any stagnant water around the house that can turn into a insect breeding ground.  Like many things prevention is easier than the cure.

Cash & Carry is now has Coconut oil in a 5-6 gallon metal bucket for about $32.00.  Coconut oil does not go rancid very quickly, is shelf stable and is used in everything from cooking, lamps to soap making and personal care products like lotions or a carrier for essential oils.  I figure one of those buckets c0ntains about 35 pounds of oil/fat for food storage if you are using the pound method to measure you food storage. That would cover a family of four fat/oil needs at least 6 months for cooking for less than $35.00 that has to be one of the best buys I have seen and the oil is also a great multi-tasker.

I am doing okay on most of the 2014 goals though paying down debt got a bit more difficult with the water main. Another month and Les Schwab will be paid off and if there are no more disasters I should be able to get ahead on the bills again though it helped a lot getting me through April. If we get through April and early May without the PTBs doing something incredibly dumb like starting a war or crashing the market, we should be fairly safe until September historically speaking.

Back to work and hoping for no more Chaos

April 11, 2014

I didn’t sleep all that well last night. I was very worried about Smokey the cat. But she seems to be eating and drinking along with moving like herself today. Smokey didn’t lose any hair and it looks like I got the oil off quick enough that it didn’t damage her skin.   Things could be a lot worse and everybody survived this week more or less intact. Lately I feel like I’m the ball in the ping pong match and I’d really like this game to end.

Got started on the cleanup of the house with a little luck and no more water outages  I have a good shot at cleaning the bathtub. Got the floors vacumed, Saturday I’ll lay down a little DE on the carpet,  go putter in the garden and then vacume it up. I ‘ll get the pets outside and my mask on before sprinkling the DE.  I’m not taking any chances wth my pets.

Bought two more packages of bacon ends and pieces along with three pounds of butter. Any foods animal related are going higher and I have seen both pork and beef go up quite a lot in the last couple of weeks. Got to look at getting some pork bellies from Cash and Carry and try  making my own bacon. Found a new butcher shop in Caldwell and they are full sevice with sausage making and the prices are competitive for a full service butcher. The butcher seems to know his stuff and said there will be no Dungeness crabs from the Washington/Oregon coast as the season was canceled. What info he is getting is this is part of a normal 10 year cycle and not related to Fukishima. The butcher hadn’t heard anything about the Alaskan season yet.

Finally got the wheat beer bottled and it’s just about 3% alcohol. I got a higher reading on the Amber ale I’m brewing today.  The brewing went smoothly and I managed to keep the kitchen clean as well as getting all the dishes done. While I am a little tired it felt good to get back to brewing and getting the normal clean up done.  Getting my routine started again should help things feel a little more normal. I’d like to get an English porter going this weekend but the green house and garden beds are the priority on Saturday.

Stopped by Big Lots hoping they had some of Progresso meal starters I have wanted to test but no luck. I did find a dried cheese ravioli made with the basic ingrediants, real ricotta cheese and not a lot of chemicals. $2.00 per one pound package so it is a little on the high side compared to basic pasta and it was little on the bland side though adding a few dried herb during cooking should punch up the flavor a lot.  I’m going to stockup on a few of these bags as something a little different and still easy to cook.  I picked up one more of the folding tomato “trellis” and I think I could use these to support either plastic to make a modified green house or some of my light weight canvas tarps to protect from the heat.

The garden and cool weather plants have to get in the ground this weekend. Mama nature isn’t very impressed that I’m tired or have had a few water issues this month. It’s get those plants in the ground or pay the price.


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