OMG! so much rain! I thought I lived in a desert?

May 19, 2020

I don’t think we have NORMAL seasons in Idaho.  Just statistical averages, stuff  happens within most months, with the data spread over a hundred years that pretends to be normal weather.  Needless to say getting work done on the garden beds is on hold along with mowing the lawn.  There is some good news along with the bad, as the extra rain has saved me from dragging a hose around to water the lawn. The “lawn feed” and compost/fertilizer have had plenty of time to move naturally into the soil so the new grass in the back yard is filling in nicely.  The long raised garden bed plants are loving this rain.  Even the little celery plants are starting to put on some growth and come back from looking so “sad” after transplanting in the garden bed.

I’m still working the garden fence to make it an effective barrier. Having all of this rain has kept most of the cats and squirrels at home and not digging in my garden.  I’ll have few days this week to finish up my gate and add some bottom stakes the the bottom of the fence to limit the critters from crawling under the fence. The rain has made me think and layout how I want  to build the 2 ft. by 4 ft. garden cart.  One of my biggest faults in building stuff has been slapping stuff together and not taking the time to “dry fit” the parts.  I want these elevated garden bed carts to be functional but also to looks decorative.

On too the money and shopping stuff. Prioritize your spending!

  1. That means food and utilities come first.  Whatever monies are leftover then go for your debts and rent.
  2. Call the companies you owe money too and work on a payment plan even if it is only $5.00 a week or $20.00 a month.  Do this on the phone and  get a written record via email about what you are paying and receipts of payments made. This will help prove you made a “good faith effort” to pay the debt.
  3. Don’t agree to a Bubble (3-6 month of payments due in full) for payment of your mortgage or any debt after a 3 month grace period. With a mortgage, ask the bank or company to add the payment be deferred to the end of contract.  If you can’t pay your mortgage because you haven’t worked during the LOCK DOWN.  You can’t make a bubble payment of your mortgage after 3 months of lock down.
  4. If you still have an income be it SS, pension, work from home or hustling side jobs start saving cash and keep a some of that cash at home. Keep enough in the bank to pay your monthly bills and work toward that 6 months worth of saving.  Also keep some cash at home.  Let’s call it recreation money for a pizza, a good sale you find. Perhaps it is just a couple of twenty dollar bills stuffed in your wallet to pay the gas station for gas when the internet or power goes down.
  5. Buy the thing you want/need to make your life better. It is okay to have a Netflix subscription.  Not my thing,  I like video games and computers.  Heck I just spent almost $90.00 on a new desk chair because my old chair was toast.  Sitting in this chair is a joy.  It is all about what is valuable to you.

That is the thing about freedom, I may think your priorities are idiotic and you may think the same about my priorities.  You do you and I’ll do me and sharing what works and doesn’t work makes everyone’s life potentially better.  My gosh if you think making a mistake is bad, you need to practice more at screwing up.  The only people that don’t make mistakes are people who do nothing and that in itself is a mistake!


Plants in the garden beds

May 16, 2020

I started seeds indoors but many of the seeds were old and the sprouting took longer than I thought this spring.  I added in a plant light but I need to add a warming pad to help accelerate the seeds sprouting.  Now the room I started the plants was cool and it took longer for the seeds to sprout than I anticipated but when they started sprouting it was very thrilling.   I bought a few plants locally just in case my plant starts were a “bust”. Welp,  my plant starts are still small but the bought plants are in the raised bed right now and I can start a “succession” planting of the raised beds.   While I have planted the store bought plants in the raised beds. I have also sown seeds for some plants and I have my small starter plants.. I hope to keep planting either plant starts and seeds through out this summer to maximize garden production.  There is something that is so satisfying about growing a plant and seeing that plant grow.

I know Spring is not the best time to grow lawn grass but my back yard lawn patch is doing very good this spring. After scratching up the soil, adding the grass seed and covering the grass seed/lawn in a thin layer of compost plus adding in daily watering. The grass is growing and the older grass is starting to spread out and fill in the lawn area.  This area will never be golf course quality but my pets love the area and the lawn helps cool the the backyard.  Once the grass is established it will be drought resistant.  Early days yet for backyard lawn/garden but overall things are going better than I expected.

I have been asking folks to prepare for hard times.  I faced losing my house because I became disabled and had no income for several months and not being able to pay your bills is terrifying. Especially if you were not the one that screwed up!  The government faces a simple choice. Either pay people a monthly stipend for the basics of living or get people back to work.  Why are people heading to parks, beaches and not bars and cafes?  The people have been out of work for 2 months and spending their savings/credit cards keeping food on the table and paying only the bills they need  to survive!

I have been a big fan of buying up food you want to eat on sale and finding a way to store it for a year or two at a minimum.  So I have been focusing on buying meats, beef,pork and chicken because I don’t have enough land to grow my own meat and the city has code restrictions about agricultural animals in the city.  While it great that some people can raise their own meat animals.  Most city dwellers are dependent on what the local grocery stores offer for sale.  There are few tips for buying meat I will offer.

  1. Buy meat you want to eat and know how to cook: I despise the taste of liver but I like the taste of heart or gizzards. It does not matter to me that liver is chock full of vitamins. The smell of it cooking just to much for me.  Buy and store foods you want to eat and don’t waste your money on any food storage that is cheap, you think you will eat if “you are hungry enough”.  That can be said of cannibalism.
  2. You can’t keep city animals out of your garden.  You have put up barriers to protect your garden. Whining about critters in your garden does not help grow a garden.  Plus if you think anyone other than a wizard can control cats. You are deluding yourself.  My cats stay close to my home and they dig in my garden beds. I have neighbor cats that cross my backyard and probably dig in my garden beds.  Those cats also catch mice, rats and other garden destroying rodents.  Welcome to gardening with always imperfect solutions to mama nature.
  3. Keep starting plants indoors and in your garden to create a continual harvest.  Some plants like tomatoes and peppers need a long grow time but lettuce, radishes need a much shorter growth period of 2-4 weeks till harvest. I’m using some of the green plastic snow/garden fencing with the cheap plastic fence posts made for electric mesh fences and it works for a temporary fence.  I’ll add some cheap low garden fence to stop the critters from pushing underneath the plastic fence.  I’m going to make a cheap little gate and add some 1×2 inch boards that will stop most of the critters digging in my garden beds.
  4. I’ve been a little late getting three of my small beds growing the 3 sisters garden.  I planted a new sweet corn called “Bantam Early” that produces ears in 60-90 days so I should get some corn production from the small 3 sister beds.
  5. Get planting in small plastic kiddie pools as planter beds.  I have grown herbs, lettuce/greens and small watermelons in these small pools of dirt.  You don’t need to buy lumber for raised beds.  These are not good for most root crops but even small radish plants can grow in a small kiddie pool planter.  Plus the cost is cheap for a kiddie pool of $7.00-10.00 compared to the cost of lumber for a raised bed or the cost of most flower/plant pots.
  6. I know I can’t grow all the food I will need in a year in my small garden.  But I can grow some, perhaps a majority of fresh veggies I need and get my food costs a bit lower on the monthly budget.  Just because I can’t grow all of my food does not mean I should not try and grow some of my food.

I’m immuno- comprised and I have only two choices.  Stay at home or wear a mask and get the things I need to survive.  I see many idiots wearing masks wrong or not wearing masks at all.  My life is in my hands and what other people do is not my problem, because I can’t change what other people do.  All I can control is what I do daily.  If you are worried about Corona virus stay home or mask up when going out in the public shopping or whatever task you need to get done.  Don’t snitch on people that don’t follow some government mandated or your own KAREN  protocol.  Your life is in your hands and you must make that risk assessment for yourself! No one should be required to change their life so you can pretend to be safe.  Are many people idiots?  Yep! that does not mean you have to behave idiotically.  Your safety depends only upon you and not anyone else!

This post is getting a bit long, but no one is obligated to make you feel safe.  You are responsible for yourself, that is what we call being an adult.  Make yourself as resilient as possible and don’t ask the government to save you because that price can be very high!

 


Happy Mothers Day !!

May 10, 2020

It was a very Idaho sort of Mothers Day here.  I bought a small rose bush in a very cute Copper “looking” plant watering can. Then I put together Mom’s new Mantis tiller.  The instructions for the tiller’s Quick Start page was great and covered how to add oil and fuel in a very easy to follow format. Mantis even included enough oil to run the little Honda engine, so the tiller is almost fill with gas and get to work. The Mantis tiller is very light weight and that can be a good and bad thing because Mom needs a light weight tiller for her raised beds but having a heavy weight tiller can make digging into hard alkali/clay soil can make putting in a garden less physical work to start.

For my 3 Sisters garden beds I used a garden fork to turn over the soil and then used my little electric tiller to break up the clods of dirt before mixing in more compost into the soil.  While the soil I have in my beds seems to be mineral dense, the soil also compacts without compost and other amendments to the soil.  I suppose some plant other than weeds, might do well in hard compacted soil but I have not found that plant.  So far my plants are doing okay in the raise garden bed except for the new celery I planted that seems to be less sun tolerant. It looks like the Utah tall celery is the best type to grow in my area.

This is a short post but I’m adding to the garden beds.  But I wanted to say to all you Moms that have let us kids fail with our scraped knees, washed all those grass stained clothes and taught us kids how to make grilled cheese and tomato soup was the best meal ever!  Thank you Mom!


The big front yard tree is down

May 4, 2020

It took the guys from Tucker’s Timber about 10 hours to cut that big old elm down and they worked hard for all of those 10 hours. I think they did a great job with cleanup but they did have a limb bonk my neighbor’s fence and broke a section of that fence.  I liked how they pointed out this broken section of fence and tried to fix the fence right away rather than try and hide breaking the fence. The tree guys are coming back to my house to repair the neighbors broken fence and do some tree limb clean up on some of my backyard trees.  Based on seeing how full the truck beds are at the end of the day. I think the got about a cord of hard wood from the tree.  I’m getting a discount on the tree cutting service because Tucker’s will have around a cord of hard wood fire wood cut from this one tree.  The guys let me add a couple of my cut  limbs to the Wood chipper pile and gave me a new wood cutting stump that has both a flat cutting surface and a flat bottom for my wood chopping needs.  We had a big thunderstorm and rain about two days after the tree was cut down and I felt much better about cutting down the old tree after seeing the winds blowing through some of the big trees in my neighborhood.

Cutting down the big tree has already affected the “Front yard” ecology dramatically by adding a lot more sunlight.  The kiddy pool strawberry planter has exploded with flowers and the lawn is putting on more green growth in just 2 days.  I treated the lawn for bugs and added some spring feed to the lawn and now the grass is growing like crazy.  It is amazing how one change in your yard can have so many additional changes that can be both positive and negative for your plans.  I’m thinking about adding a couple of dwarf fruit trees  for a little shade or perhaps a shaded seating area with a pergola or patio umbrella/canopy that will make up for the lost shade from the tree.  I am taking this summer to see how much impact the lost of that shade tree will affect the home cooling costs and how it will affect the front yard flower/garden beds.

I attacked the overgrown grape vines so I could get three more raised beds ready for a “Three Sisters” beds of corn, beans and squash.  Cutting out the old grape canes went better than I anticipated.   While I did cut out some new runners and growth, most of the stuff I cut was old dried out canes that was messy and not productive vine growth. The three beds have been fallow for a year and I need to fork it, add some compost/manure but I think the beds will be ready for planting one bed of sweet corn and the other beds of dent corn.  After a couple of weeks  I can add the pole beans and week later the winter squash if I can find seeds for direct sowing. SW Idaho has a fairly long growing season for a northern state.  While we can’t grow citrus fruits on a large scale we have many orchards full of apples, apricots, pears and grow some of the best grapes. Idaho farms also grow a lot of onions, garlic, wheat, oats and corn. So I think I’ll do okay with fresh greens and growing some stuff in my garden beds as I live in a agricultural state. Our weakest link in Idaho is gasoline/ diesel/ fuel and carbon-based fertilizer and chemical pesticides.  While I may not like using chemical based poisons to eliminate insect in a large scale farming operation.  I can’t say the pesticide is ineffective.  I just think the cost/benefit ratio might be problematic.

Anyhoo,  if you are like me on Social Security and file taxes but don’t get a refund or have to pay taxes. The IRS web site now is “Updated” and I got an update on when the check was mailed rather than a webpage of the IRS doesn’t respond with a page of the IRS does not know!   I make under $20 grand a year and supposedly the IRS mailed out the check May 1st.  I don’t know if it is true but at least it is better than the “We don’t know” page.   If you got the IRS “We don’t know” page in the last month you might want to check back and see if the status has changed.  I hate this pittance giver to USA tax payers and the big banks get to hand out government backed grants in the billions of dollars.  Gold/money always runs up hill.  Give the poorest person a  $100-$1000 dollars and they will spend it right away!  I’m doubtful all would spend it wisely, but before a week is out that money will end up in a TBTF bank.  I think giving people “Free Money” is a bad thing but if the government is hell bent on giving away “free money”. They should make that money circulate as effectively as possible.  That means giving that free money to the people of the middle class and poor because they will spend the money to pay rent,mortgages,credit card payments, utilities, groceries, fuel/energy.  An Uber rich person might buy another Picasso.  Hell I love good art but how does that art create demand/growth of the economy?  Honestly how many pairs of pants can Bill Gates buy/own?


I saw Toilet Paper in Fred Meyer today and rain in the valley!

April 22, 2020

There was some Quilted Northern TP in Fred Meyers today.  About 10- 20 of box cases of the 4 packs but it is the first time in a few weeks I saw toilet paper on the shelves.  The facial tissue area was better stocked and there was even an “end cap” full of the facial tissue boxes.  Perhaps the run on Tissue paper is starting to slow down or at least people have enough TP already on hand they no longer feel the need to buy/store more Tissue paper at home.  Bottled water shelves also seem to be returning to pre-Wuflu levels and that is all to the good!  People need to return to buying stuff they need, rather than following the “herd” and buying items based on panic and fear.    I’m seeing food prices start to go up and it will probably get worse over the summer. It is a double whammy to people out of work that right at the time they have very little money on hand the food and products they need to live are in the store but have start going up in price. Me telling some one they can save money baking bread at home does not help if they can’t buy yeast because all the stores are sold out of yeast.  I don’t have a sourdough starter to share but I was able to give Mom a small 4 oz jar of some yeast I have stored in the freezer.  Baking bread takes a little bit of practice and add in trying to make a sourdough starter for a new baker really increases the learning curve.

I am seeing more people wearing masks, scarf and bandannas here in SW Idaho.  I’m guessing about 40-50% range.  Not everyone but it is much better than I saw on a shopping trip a couple of weeks ago!  Wearing a mask is irritating to me even though I advocate it being the easy/simplest method to help stop the spread of the virus.  I now have a weird feeling of something coating my face and when I get home I have to wash my face along with my hands.  I’m packing my own groceries in the new reusable plastic coated bags I sanitize before I shop and again before the bags get loaded in the mini-van.  I understand stores not trusting customer’s reusable bags.  I don’t trust store’s plastic bags because those bags are probably made in China.  For now I can use a Lysol type spray, but I may have to move to a diluted bleach spray bottle to disinfect my bags before the come into the house.  Yep, I’m being a little OCD but I’d rather get a small dose of any virus and give my body more time to build a good immuno-response to this virus rather than deal with a huge viral load.  I shop at stores where I have a good relationship with the cashiers, butchers and deli and I don’t want them to get sick and hopefully me wearing a mask will reduce their stress level about catching the virus.

Some of the starting plants are growing and I had to take off the cover as the plants are getting to tall.  The starter plants are still a bit too delicate to transplant but the stuff that is growing is growing great. The tomitillos I bought are growing like crazy and I still need to add fences around my garden beds to try and stop the cats doing the cat things to my garden beds.  Mom is now fully cleared to lift more than 15 pounds from her surgery recovery limitation.  She is ready to do some raised beds and I suggested she get the local big box store cut the lumber to size for her raised beds.  I prefer raised beds to be 3 foot or under in width but Mom want’s to go with 4 feet of width.  It should not make that much difference if you can reach all of the bed from both sides. Speaking only for myself I think a raised bed garden should be 3 foot or less wide.

I don’t know if you feel it but I feel planting a home garden of any sort is critical this year. My long term food storage is pretty good but having those fresh herbs, greens and crops that add not only calories, vitamins and variety of vegetables/herbs can’t buy in stores for any price. Buy the things the USA can not grow such as coffee, chocolate and the things you want to have for yourself.

 


More yard work getting done

April 21, 2020

The front yard lawn and flower beds got the first application of weed and Spring feed and I’m almost back on schedule for those applications of lawn food. It might be psychological or the plants really needed a good soaking of water, it seems the grass and flowers are looking a little greener today!

I have been holding off mowing the back yard lawn are to give the grass seed plenty of time to germinate. This time when I spread the grass seed I scratched rows in the dirt with a sharply tined rake, then added layer of steer manure compost.  That layer of compost “spread via shovel” seem to have help getting the grass seeds growing and is greening up the clumps of grass I managed to get started in the lawn bed.   The taller clumps of grass in the backyard area got cut down little using the weed wacker.  I’m going to mow with the mower on the tallest setting to see how well all of the grass seed is starting to fill in the lawn grass bed.  It’s hard for me to see how well the new grass seed is filling when grass height varies so much from very tall to very short.  I’m going to keep adding the compost because it is greening up the existing grass and helping to make that lawn more level by filling in some low spots.

I know I’m doing things a little backwards as Fall is the best time to seed grass but with last years early snow and frost getting the seeds growing did not work out.  It is possible some of the new grass coming up is some of the seeds I tried to plant last fall.  If that is correct perhaps with the extra compost water and another seeding this Fall the little backyard lawn will be ready for prime time Spring 2021!

I made some more pain cream/salve today. This cream really helps ease general aches and is outstanding helping to ease the muscle cramps I experience with my CIDP.   I have started using the pain cream to help with drying skin on my hands from all the hand washing and it seems to better for me than the essential oil skin cream.  I seem to get a bonus of healing dry skin when I use the pain cream to stop my crazy hand cramps.

Essential oils seem to be a little bit random in effectiveness from person to person and recipes often need to be tweaked to find the right combination for each person.  I can say that the pain cream works fantastic for easing my muscle cramps and dry skin.  Yet the pain cream does not seem to help my Mom though her Fybro and my CIDP have some similar symptoms. Using Essential oils won’t work for everyone but for people like me it can seem like a miracle drug .

Doing a little shopping with Mom to get her one of those weed/bush wacker on wheels to start reclaiming that field of weeds on her property.  Mom does not want to use her riding mower to mow the weeds in the field until she knows any hidden garbage is exposed and cleaned up.  We have tried using regular weed eaters and got about 1/4 of the field of weeds knock down for a short time.  Mom has a couple of Rain bird sprinklers and is buying a water pump to start adding water to grow some good ground cover plants that will hopefully out compete the weeds and augment the soil.  It will take years to knock out the weeds and find good cover crops to improve the soil.  The first step is to knock down the weeds and keep them knock down while you plant something that thrives with just a little more water and a little better soil.

Mom bought one of the small Mantis tillers  and I’m very excited to see how that tool works digging in and working her garden beds.  I like my little electric tiller but the Mantis tillers have so many different attachments for de-thatching lawns and aerating soil I’m interested to see if the tiller lives up to the hype.

I have more tomato plants sprouting in the new seed starter bed that is indoors.  I bought a few starter plants for low cost at Fred Meyers, the Tomitillo plants are growing like crazy and is over 12 inches tall.  The other plants are healthy but none have put on growth like the Tomitilloes.  I will start planting the better growing plants and do some direct sowing in the raised beds.  The weather looks frost free for the next 7-10 days and that gets us into May for frost free gardening.

All I have to do is figure out anti-cat/dog/squirrel fences!

 


Front lawn/yard cleanup

April 18, 2020

I can’t believe I got most of the front yard clean up done in one day, though I did take a nap about half way through the work day.

The big tree hasn’t been cut down yet.  The company I use for my firewood is extremely busy and that is great! The owner gave me a call to explain why they did not get to my tree as they cut done one tree, then neighbors asked if they would trim or cut down trees while they were in the neighborhood.  I don’t blame the company for trying to get as much work and cash as possible cutting and trimming trees.  This company has been great letting me make payments as well as being honest and forthright with the quality of firewood.  I get full cords of fire wood and even a little box bonus of kindling every time they deliver fire wood.  It can be brutal for small local companies to keep working so if they get paying jobs that keep them in business this spring that means they will be around to sell me good firewood in the future.

Any hoo, I held off cleaning up the front yard because I anticipated a lot of twigs and  branch clean up from the big tree getting cut down.  The tree might not be cut down for a couple of weeks and my front yard needs some work!  I used the weed eater to knock down most of the weeds.  I was surprised it took 2, 20 volt batteries to get that clean up done. I mowed the grass to a low height and and then raked the lawn.

I don’t like using using pesticides on the lawn but I have a bad grub and bug problem in the front yard.  I spread a bit of granular pesticide to see if it will take care of the nasty lawn eating bugs.  I watered the bug  killing stuff today and Sunday it should be safe for the pets and to water the entire front lawn and give the plants/lawn a good soak.  The back yard lawn area grass is still spotty but I think most of the grass seed added this spring is growing.

I’m using a Fescue mix of drought tolerant grass seeds in soil that needs a lot of improvement in a high desert climate.  So the lawn is taking some time to fill in. I hope in a 2-3 weeks the lawn will have enough growth/germination to stand up to a mowing.

The seed starting beds for the garden are starting to poke up little bits of greenery.  Even the old seed starting beds have a few seeds starting to grow.  The older seed bed was slower than I had anticipated for germination but the new seed starter box has some tomato plants growing. I prefer cooler temps in this part of the house.  Germinating plants need a higher and more consistent temp.  It looks like I need to get a plant warming mat for the starter plant boxes.

I’m working on a small “raised” garden bed that is on wheels and about the same working height of most kitchen counters of 30-36 inches tall but with a 12-18 inch depth of soil for planting a small two foot by four foot kitchen/herb garden that is easy to move around from full sun or to shade on a small patio/deck or balcony.  I want it to be low cost and easy for people to make with small investment of under $50.00 in lumber.  The overall height of the bed should make it easy for all  people to use as this taller raised bed should make gardening easier compared to kneeling on the ground for most raised beds.  Speaking only for myself, I have moved pots, garden beds and tweaked what I plant in my yard all the time.  It would be nice to move even a small garden bed of plants into the shade or into the sun because of the weather or season.

I am sure there are plans already out on the internet for this Raised garden/patio cart idea.  Until I build it my self it is all “theory” not reality for me. Perhaps I make a better raised bed, then again it might be worse, but I will have a real product to test against theory.

I noticed many more people masked up when I was shopping at Fred Meyers last Thursday.  It was Military discount day and Shoppers tend to be older and I hope the Vets are more self aware about a pandemic virus.  If you want to open the the USA economy wear a  mask and limit the spread.  I know wearing a mask properly is annoying.  Don’t go shopping unless you want to wear a mask properly.  Wear a mask, practice social distance of 6-12 feet voluntarily or the government at all levels will shut you down because you are incapable of being smart enough to protect yourself and others around you.