A Blustery Day, puttering around to recover stamina

December 17, 2018

Yep, I over did it on the 13th getting the Xmas lights up and mowing up the leaves on the front lawn.  It did not help that SW Idaho had a wind storm of 30 MPH+ wind come through on Friday.  I know some of you live in places that sort of wind is considered  “breezy” but around my place it really seemed to wear me out.  Funny it wasn’t that cold but the wind would chill you down and seemed to cut right through me. All I had to do on the blustery day is make a “wood run” with my garden wagon to top off the porch woodpile.

Friday it was very calm with almost no wind to speak of and warm (40 degrees F.) so I could remove just a bit of ice,  clean out all the bird baths and add fresh water.  It seems the little birds enjoy having the fresh water in the bird baths almost as much as the bird feeders.  Fresh, unfrozen water in winter is probably more rare than finding food in winter. I have plenty of bushes and trees for the birds to find safe places from predators along with a good food supply.  I’m not saying a cat or a hawk could not take a small bird but the predator would have to work at it in spite of the provided food and water supply.  My dogs think chasing off any cats their duty.

Mom told me once the birds found a consistent feed source the birds would let all all of their bird friends know and when you add in a bird bath of fresh unfrozen water.  You will get a flock of the little birds to hang around.  I have a dove that stops by for a snack and drink of water again, though I doubt I’ll see different types of birds until this place becomes a known food spot during migrations or a safe place for the birds that don’t migrate.  Perhaps in the Spring I can add a few bird houses to give a migration stop off point.  Sort of an B&B for birds.

I’m trying to do the homemade dog food mix on the weekend.  I know many people avoid mixing up dog food as doggies gut get used to a type of food but I think I need to introduce more homemade dog food and give the dogs a few choices on what to eat.   One thing I have noticed is a higher protein, fat and veggie and lower grain mixture gets eaten quickly compared to a higher carb mix.  The veggies I add (broccoli, peas &carrots, corn) don’t seem to affect the dogs as far as eating the food.

Onto the wood stove update and kindling.  It looks like my little kindling box of wood will last about 7-10 days using the “egg crate” fire starter.  My kindling box is a small wood lat wood crate you can buy at most craft stores. My crate is much smaller than the wood crate Wranglestar uses for 2 weeks of kindling.  The wood stove is basically my only source of heat I use in late fall, winter and early spring.  I don’t have a lot of long burning hardwoods this year, so I depend on the the new windows and  insulation in my house to hold heat and keep everything warm and above freezing.  This is working great.  I have not only kept up with my fire starting needs but have kept Mom supplied at her house while she was recovering from a fall/injury.  One thing that is new for me is letting the wood stove go out during the day, once the house is warm.  Having the fire starters and kindling makes starting a fire so fast and easy I don’t mind starting a fire a couple times a day.

 

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Outside Xmas lights installed.

December 13, 2018

I’d like to make my XMAS light install on or around the 10th -15th of December in reference to the 12 Days of Christmas.  With the vinyl siding install, adding lights around the house has become a bit more work.  You don’t want to drill holes into your vinyl siding.  I put some multi- colored lights along my little garden fence around my front yard garden beds and even at 12 inch high the little lights look good.  This is the first year using a net of lights on the chain link fence.   I really love the look of the net type Xmas lights on the chain link fence.  I know many people drape these nets over shrubs/bushes but I think draping the net over chain link fence can add a great decorative element. I have a couple of porch windows with the white ice lights.  I think incorporating both element of high, low  and in the middle gives the Xmas light some symmetry.

I used my lawn mower to removed most of the leaves covering my front yard.  It was brutal, because all I was going to remove the leaves on 1/2 of the yard but that half looked so good I just had to do all of the front lawn.   I was slacking about yard clean up but I did a lot of trimming rose bushes and grape vines so I could run the Xmas lights.  It is darn amazing how much easier it is to trim/prune bushes and trees when you don’t have to fight branches or leaves slapping you around.  I filled both big trash cans with yard waste.

Physically speaking I’ll probably need at least one day off of doing any physical labor.  Gosh I finally started trimming back the grape vines and rose bushes, so I could install Xmas lights and I’m physically toasted.  I did about 3 solid hours of physical work today and filled two large trash cans with yard debris.  So while my stamina level seems to be coming back.  It is probably best to keep things easy and not try and do to much for a couple of days.   Great news is both Mom and I have plenty of kindling and we can start a fire easily.

I have more plans for the shop and I have work to do to set up the greenhouse and prep thegarden beds for Spring.


BBQ Turkey is a go!

December 11, 2018

Sorry this did not get posted.  I think it should be a alternative on cooking Turkey on the BBQ.

Mom took a fall and is moving a little slow this week.  I played Chauffeur for her little shopping trip and depositing a check to her bank account. Mom bought some cat food at the farm store and we got a punpkin and lemon meringue pie for desert.  Thankfully Mom has made some great connections in her town so she got a little help getting the cat food in a bucket and moving some wood for the fireplace.  Most people are darm good human beings. It is annoying that the assholes stand out.

Bad news I could not find another small 10-12 pound Turkey at a great price via the local super market.  Perhaps I’ll find another small 10-12 turkey before January 1st.  Good news it has gotten cloudy over night here, so I’ll have about 40 degrees F. temps to BBQ the turkey outside.  Trust me outside temps make a big difference in heating up your BBQ for turkey.  We will be having the standards of stuffing and potatoes but rather than yams drenched in brown sugar and baked,  we are going to try out sweet potato fries. Sort of traditional, but a more savory option.

I got the bread dough in the fridge rising and I’ll bake off a loaf or 2 for the meal.  Mom is pretty sore from her fall so I want to give her plenty of food that is easy to nuke/reheat over the weekend.  I was physically down for a few weeks and Mom wanted to help me.  Now Mom is down and I want to help her and I can’t move out, based on finances.  Nor does Mom want to give up her home and independence.

Some good things is Mom is in a small town and has a few angels watching over her.  I’m recovering from my flare and can do more physically to help her.  I cut up a full box of wood kindling with only a little break to chat with a neighbor.  Now I seem to have remembered how to use an axe/hatchet to cut up kindling.  I’m not sure why, I seem to be cutting up kindling more effectively. If it works and is it is not stupid/dangerous.  I’m good with however getting the kindling cut up.

I’m not banking fires correctly, but the house is staying warm overnight.  I mean I’d love the back part of the house to warm in the morning, but 73 degrees F. in the living room and 65 degrees in the “cold” part of the house is not that all that bad. I’m starting to remember how to save coals overnight.  I got a bit spoiled having Mom around as I’d top off the fire late at night and she would re-stoke the fire around 6 hours after I went to bed.  I’m still learning with the using the wood stove with a different sort of wood.  I don’t free freezing pipes or getting really cold.  It is about keeping comfortable after all the hard work has been done.


Feeling good today

December 11, 2018

I had a very good day today!  I got an 18 gallon bucket full of kindling today. I feel it was via improving stamina and working more efficiently.  I’m getting a lot better at picking straight grain chunks of wood for my kindling.  The axe is great for splitting wood into smaller chunks and then using the hatchet to make the actual kindling.  I’m trying to be conservative in my estimate on how much kindling I need to stock up on but I’m feeling very positive about how much kindling I have cut and how long it will last this winter.

Mom says she has plenty of kindling and fire starters. I have found that using a page of news print under the egg carton fire starter as the 1st layer of fire starter and then add kindling, I can start a fire in less than two minutes.  Overall I’m very happy that I could help out Mom with giving her a little kindling and fire starters.  I’m not sure how long the wood in my racks will last during winter and I want to buy  more wood because I want to over prepare for heating over winter.

I still think a Depression/inflation is coming and we have been given a long time to prepare.  That long time to prepare was what I wished for myself.  Trust me I thought the crash would come in 2011 but the power of mass delusion kept the stock market /globalism working.

I can do few jobs around the house but I can’t go and cut wood in the forest.  Hell I’m doing good if I can cut kindling for 30-45 minutes in a day.  How much can people do to prep when they work 40 + per week and try growing a garden or stacking wood just to stay warm or preserve food?  No, I don’t want US government help. I just want everyone to have the option of growing a garden or putting up a greenhouse if they want to grow a few veggies.


More chopping wood and snow in the forecast.

December 9, 2018

The last couple of days went great cutting up kindling.  I spent the first day using the 3.5 pound axe to split wood into smaller chunks.  Then I filled up my box of kindling using the hatchet.  Today I still had many of the smaller chunks of wood, so I cut it into kindling for Mom.  I didn’t fill the big 18 gallon bucket with kindling but I got the bucket about 1/2 full.  Mom is going to stop by Tuesday this week so I have at least a day to get the rest of the big bucket filled with kindling.  My hope is that my kindling box will hold enough kindling to last about a week and the big bucket of kindling will last Mom about two weeks.  With the fire starters and  a couple of weeks of kindling Mom should have time to heal up before she needs to worry about how she will start a fire.

Great news for making my fire starters.  Mom has a bunch of old candles she found in her stuff and will donate to the fire starter wax fund. I have a few more egg crates and plenty of wood chips so paraffin wax is what I need to make fire starters.  I figure about 10 egg cartons worth of fire starters will start a fire everyday for 4 months should cover most of the wood heating season from mid November to mid March.  Of course your wood heating season may start earlier or last longer but there is using paper or other fire starters when you want just a small fire to take the chill off the house in the late fall or spring.

Snow is in the forecast and I don’t really mind driving in the snow. I know to slow down, leave a lot of room for braking and sliding on slick roads.  I try and find a safe place and brake hard to make my mini-van slide to test my traction level.  (Empty parking lots are a great place to test your traction, braking and learning to recover from a slide!) My problem is all the other idiots that don’t know how to drive in snow or ice and assume either 4WD, AWD or anti-locks brakes make skidding or sliding impossible.

Any hoo the best place to be when the first couple of snow falls hit, is at home and let the idiots get all the stupid/ignorant driving out of their system.  I stopped by the the grocery store and picked up some tissue paper on sale as I need to replace my stockpile.  I topped off the gas tank in the mini-van with Ethanol free gas.  Great news it is finally under $3.00 a gallon in SW Idaho.  Honestly it should be closer to $2.25-2.50 per gallon given the per barrel cost of oil but the price is the price and I won’t by ethanol fuel if I can avoid it.

The porch wood rack and kindling box is full. I found one of my “kennel” wood rack is full of last year’s maple and cherry wood logs all dry, seasoned and ready to burn over night.  I may give Mom some of the Poplar and see how she likes it compared to the lodgepole pine she bought for her wood pile.  Don’t get me wrong I think Doug fir is one of the best fire woods you can get here in the west.  I also think it would be best to have a hardwood like fruit woods that grow great here in the west. Oak, maple and hickory don’t grow well in the local climate.

I’m starting to get how to use the wood stove since the installations of new windows and siding and losing Mom as the early morning fire starter/wood stoker.  The house really holds heat much better compared to before the new window and siding installation.  I knew my old windows leaked air badly in spite of my caulk/silicon fixes.  Depending on the type of wood I burn the fire will last about 6 hours with the pine.  I wake up to the main part of the house in the low 70’s and the back part of the house in the mid 60’s.  These temps are very comfortable to me though I don’t get a long overnight burn in the wood stove.  With the kindling and fire starters I can get a new fire in the wood stove easily.  If you want to save energy costs and be warm in winter and cool in summer.  You own an older home like I do. I think you should insulate, get energy efficient windows  before you consider any sort of Green Energy solutions.  It is not a sexy solution you will see everyday but you will see it every month in your energy cost.

 


Long naps and cutting kindling

December 8, 2018

Even with my CIDP I usually did not take very long naps. Usually 20-40 minute nap in the afternoon and I was good to go.  This flare hit me hard and while my stamina is coming back I have been napping 1-2 hours in the afternoon.  As you can imagine I lose a lot of daylight working time via those naps.   I’m not complaining  (much) obviously it seems I need a bit more recovery sleep from my flare to build up my stamina this winter.  Perhaps it is a winter thing that we want to recover from Fall harvests and prepare for Spring plantings that goes back when we humans were hunter/gatherers or agriculturalist/ gardeners.

Anyhoo, I think I’m getting better at cutting kindling more efficiently.  Doug fir makes great kindling for starting a fire.  The Doug fir I bought was already split and many of the wood chunks were small in size.  That made fires in October great as those small chunks of wood made great fires just perfect for taking the edge of the cold in the house.  Now I’m picking out wood with no knots or much sap to fill my kindling box.  I’m a bit surprised how much kindling you can make from  split fire wood.  I’m not saying that making kindling is easy but the process is simple.

Now to making the process more easy.  I have cleared and area of the shop for the grinder to sharpen up the axes.  I bought relatively cheap axes of good steel and potential cutting quality if sharpened properly.  Using the grinder I will put on a good enough edge that can be maintained via a stone.   The grinder will not sharpen the ax.  It will only remove some metal so I can actually sharpen the ax.

This is the first year I have not bought hardwoods to supplement the pine/fir.  I don’t consider Poplar as a hard wood compared to pine/fir.  I think next year I’ll need to be a little more proactive adding a some fruit woods to the wood pile. If your fire burns at least 4-6 hours overnight you will keep your home well above freezing.  If you want to stoke the  stove overnight good on you.  I don’t want to stoke a stove in the middle of the night.  If it is a bit brisk (Above freezing) in the morning well start the fire and start the coffee and let the house warm up.  When it got very cold (13 F.) it was 68 degrees F. in the room with the stove and only 62 degrees F. in the back part of the house.  I don’t expect a snowy winter I do think it will get cold and stay about -10 to- 20 F. as a low in January.

S.W. Idaho valleys generally don’t get a lot of snow but it can get darn cold in winter.  My unlined leather gloves were cold today, so time to use the lined gloves.  I really like my knitted head band that keeps my ears warm but does not contain heat when I’m working in winter.  I have a knit watch cap if I need to conserve heat.  A polypro neck gaiter or wool scarf is a great winter addition to your outdoor apparel.  One thing I have done is buy more of the items that keep me warm outside.

Gosh in the US Army I was given lots of cold weather gear that did not keep me warm.  It was to keep me functional.  Most of that gear kept me from freezing but it often did not help me do my job.  Now that I’m a civilian I can pick and choose items to stay warm.  Most cold weather gear issued by the Army when I was in 2003 assumed you would be stationary or you would move quickly.  Nothing in between.

I have a full kit of US Army Gortex from 20003 and I don’t use any of it today down to the boots and gloves. I can buy much better stuff on the civilian market at a better price.  Don’t get me wrong some military gear can be a great bargain.  That gear won’t make you warm if it is 0 degrees F.


A good work day!

December 6, 2018

I still need some long naps to recover from my CIDP flare but my stamina is returning and I did about an hour of chopping wood into kindling today.  It was a bit tougher to start cutting the kindling ( I think the sap froze) but once I got in a rhythm the chopping went okay.

I’m going to do a test of splitting the mill ends for kindling along with chopping up the Douglas fir for kindling.  I’ll admit that Wranglestar was correct that his kindling box could last about 2 weeks especially if they use a good fire starter. It still amazes me how a few wood chips/sawdust in a egg carton with a bit of melted paraffin wax can make such a great fire starter.

Mom needs a bit more kindling for her stove and will be stopping by Thursday.  I want to do test of splitting the mill end into kindling but I suspect finding a few chunks of straight grain fir will be my kindling project for the winter.  I think I have burned just about every sort of wood outside of oak and hickory.  Maple and fruit woods are about the easiest hardwood to get here in SW Idaho but that does not mean those woods are cheap.  It is easy to do a mix of hardwoods along with fir/pine if you order your wood early in the year.  One thing great about pine or fir is it usually seasons in 9 months on the wood pile. I will start buying wood in early Spring to build up my wood pile.

I’m going to add more Protein and fats  while reducing  the carbs in my home made dog food. Most dry dog food and can dog food is mostly fillers and the dogs need more protein.  So I’m going to start making soft dog food that as least 50% protein and add a bit good carbs and dog safe veggies and fruits.  It was interesting to watch my dogs eat all of the chicken and broccoli mix without an additional carb of corn meal or brown rice.  I do think that dogs need some extra calories via carbs but I also think upping the protein levels in meals gets the doggies to a more natural healthy doggie diet.

Sadly I have neglected combing out my doggies coat.  Today I gave both dogs a combing and get rid of the undercoat they grow.  It is a return of combing and brushing the doggies weekly that will keep up with the shedding going into winter.

The bird baths seem to be the main attractions of my bird area. I suppose any non-frozen water supply is easier to drink rather than chipping ice from water puddles. I cleared the ice from the small bird baths this afternoon but the birds were to skittish to return to feed.  The little bird baths are clean and I dumped any water after dark. I’ll add warm water in the AM for the critters.  The big bird bath is in my shower melting down the ice hopefully bird bath will return to the bird feeding area quickly.  Dump left over bird bath water in the dark and refill in the AM.