Golly, I got quite of work done.

February 19, 2019

Mom came into town and got another little bucket of kindling, fire starters and some wood for her stove.  I sort of figured, I’d be augmenting Mom’s wood pile this year.Because I did not think she had a good projection of wood needed and she was trying to get a lot of work getting her house settled this first year being in the house.  I’m sure most of her basic home maintenance items will stop being an “EMERGENCY” and she will start seeing/getting into a rhythm or timing when stuff needs work.

I did not anticipate cutting kindling for both of us or making the fire starters.  Overall this has been a good thing as kindling and fire starters can be in high demand in winter.  This could be a profitable business for anyone wanting to do the work.  I’m handicapped but even I can cut up a good amount of kindling in 30-60 minutes.

A couple of thing I have learned cutting wood.  Sharp tools are a must, be it an axe or a chainsaw.  Buy a simple wedge rather than the cross/star type wedge for splitting wood.  The cross/star type wedge needs a lot of brute force to split wood and does not save any effort splitting wood by hand.  I think a good quality straight blade wedge you can sharpen would be a better investment.  Yes,  I bought a cross type wedge and  pounded on hardwood for at least 15-20 minutes to split.  You don’t save time or energy pounding on a Cross/Star type wedge unless you are using hydraulic log splitters.  Hydraulic Log splitters are great, and you notice the log splitters tend to use a single blade/ wedge to split logs.  I’m talking about what I did with a Star/cross wedge and I don’t think those tools are a good buy or tool for your shop. Learn from my mistakes!

I love the slippers I bought for $6.00.  I like the new sneakers I got for 50% off.  You can prep even when stuff is high cost if you just wait and shop.  Your costs will go up as inflation and “profit” at all costs hits.  Many corporations  have forgotten that customers and consumers buy their products not shareholders.

I’m semi pissed at the makers of Brawny Paper Towels, Quilted Northern and Cottenelle products.  A company raised the price not because of inflation but the want a higher profit margin.  That is that companies choice.  My choice is to no longer buy that company’s  products.  This ain’t my first rodeo  corporations and I’ll go generic or make my own stuff.  After you have raped the consumer financially, do you think they will beg to buy your product?  I don’t need you massive corporation, your products are convenience.  Think about if more people realize they don’t need you. (corporations)

Sorry,  I went shopping and had a bit of a rant. Mom has firstarters, a little more kindling and wood.  My fire wood rack is full and I bought steaks for under $3.00 per pound.  Life is good!

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Working inside the house

February 17, 2019

I did a better job on getting my weekly house clean up done this week. While I did not go all out; scrubbing carpets or washing down walls full on “Spring cleaning mode”.  I did a get rid of some stuff that I had been ignoring and started organizing a a few of my  tools/toolboxes and cleaned up the in home plant starting areas.

Good news I did not buy/store the big 8×12 greenhouse from Harbor Freight.  I bought the smaller 6 ft. x  8ft.  version.  That will make the foundation for the greenhouse less costly for lumber, and using deck piers is now a cost effective solution for the foundation.  Building the green house will probably resemble an Erector Set from hell but at least setting up the foundation should be relatively simple if not easy.

I got out all the shoe boxes of seeds I have been saving and will go through the packets.  Any seed packet older than 3-5 years will go in the trash.  You generally get the best germination rates with seeds less than a year old.  But many seeds can last 5 years+ if stored properly.  If you want to use older seeds to see if they work, good on you.  The worst that can happen is the seed does not germinate/sprout. Mom and I are getting together a wish list of plants from Baker Creek that we want to test out this year.  My raised garden beds situation is solid and I’m looking to extend the season and do succession plantings. Mom has to look at planting at drought tolerant or shade loving crops.  Mom must clean up then plant/improve the soil, before she can actually sow seed for the long term.  Water is very expensive for Mom’s property, so getting crops that add/ remove/mitigate the clay and very alkaline soil as well as thrive in that soil is a challenge.  Especially when you have a tight budget.  Digging in that ground is about as easy digging though 3 ft.  deep of cracked concrete.

I’m having flash backs to digging post holes when I was 18 years old.  Can digging post holes cause PTSD? This statement is joke SJWs!   Golly explaining jokes is tiresome and makes the joke less funny.  Of course most SJWs have never dug a post hole or made a funny joke.

Ive been cleaning up my preps as I bought a lot of stuff I thought I would need and did not use that stuff.  Now is the time to start make use of all that stuff.  I want to install a new floating floor around my backdoor entry way.  This project may fail as I’m not doing it according to instructions.  But if it fails, I have a backup plan. I have a carpet to cover my mistakes!

More indoor work will have to wait on a couple of clear days of chopping wood and making some more kindling. I’m going going to try out a little different fire starter set up.

There are a lot of projects I want to accomplish, but all the goals are simple/easy to meet in time.  No tasks are critical this month.

 


Back to work!

February 15, 2019

The weather here in SW Idaho has been wet, windy, dreary and generally unpleasant the last couple of weeks.  I’ve been a little bit lazy as I’m still dealing with winter though my Iris’s are coming up and I’m ready for Spring to SPRUNG!

I cut up a little more kindling for myself and Mom.  I topped off my kindling box and still have 2 backup boxes.  Mom asked for a little more kindling and I did not consider her stove may need more kindling for starting a fire.  I was able to fill a box with kindling but I did not have much kindling or fire starters  stored as back up and February seems to be getting all wintery and snowy rather than all Spring-like and warm.  I did not count on Mom being hurt and unable to cut kindling.  I’m not knocking Mom being injured. I could also have been injured and who would cut kindling?

It is not terrible for me as compared to couple years ago I was searching for any wood to burn.  Splitting logs to burn and trying to dry wood indoors to feed the wood stove SUCKS!     FYI Poplar is a good wood for a hot fast fire and it does not leave a lot of ash.  Does poplar create more ash than Doug Fir?  Yes, but not anywhere the ash output of Elm. I estimate that poplar ash needs to be cleaned out about 1.25 times more often as Doug fir ash.

Poplar does not seem to make long lasting coals or burn over night.  I suppose you can think of Poplar burning more like a pine/softwood rather than a hardwood.  I have not tried to split poplar for kindling because it seems to have a stringy grain and that sort grain not easy for an axe to split.

I did not realize I had so much left over fruit woods, elm and white maple in my wood racks. Personally White maple is a great wood for the stove, when dry it splits easily.  But white maple trees is limited to the folks that grow that tree locally as it is not a common wood here in the west.  If you want to burn a hard wood the local fruit wood orchards are probably the best option.  Douglas Fir is probably the best wood on average to stack in the PNW (Pacific North West) then augment your stack with fruit woods.

Last but not least do not build a smokey fire in your stove.  I call it a “smudge fire” as all you get is roiling smoke that dirties the glass stove door and creates creosote in your chimney.   I made this mistake as I thought I was saving heat.  Get the stove hot first and keep the wood burning  hot and not smoldering.  If you want overnight heat, you want to build mostly smoke free coals. Smoke is bad for any wood fire, coals are good as they tend to be mostly smoke free.   Honestly, I build a good fire at night and my house retains the heat until the morning and I start a new fire in the afternoon.  Good insulation and good windows can make that much of a difference.

Waking up to a house that is about 60-65 degrees F. is not a hardship.  Especially when you can start a fire, quicker than you can make a pot of coffee.

I killed another coffee maker and back to the simple Proctor-Silex I bought more than  ten + years ago.  The coffee brewed tastes better than the new  Mr. Coffee machine provided.  Honestly I think the old coffee makers heat the water to a higher temp compared to the newer coffee makers, so they brew coffee better overall.  Probably won’t be long before I give up on Automatic drip coffee makers and go full on French press or a percolator.

Update on using the Elliptical machine.  I slacked off for a few days so I’ll have to improve on using it daily.  Funny thing that happens that the more you move the easier it is to get moving even when you feel a bit of weather related funk.

Life is darn good overall.  I forgot how well fruit woods break down into coals and it is darn warm in the house.

Oh, I just found out that many companies are jacking up prices on paper products not because of higher costs but because the companies want higher profit margins.  I get a company wants to keep pace with inflation.  Gouging your customers to make a quick buck seems counter intuitive.

You makers of Brawny paper towels, Charmin Tissue paper. Cottenelle Tissue and all those brand name products.  I won’t buy what you are selling in the store.  This is collusion and price fixing and no state nor the Federal government agencies will call out these corporations.  The government won’t enforce  Anti- trust laws on Corporations so all you can do is not buy those products.

Sorry this getting to be a long post.  Keep prepping, I think this is the lull before the STORM.  I really hope I’m wrong, but I’m not stopping my prep.

 


Adding in new clothing items…. and I repaired a bird feeder.

February 14, 2019

I’m a firm believer in prepping/storing clothes especially underwear, socks and basic work clothing.  One Item I seldom read about storing is foot wear.  Many people talk about buying, care of good work/cold weather boots and I’m not knocking that as good foot gear makes doing out door jobs safer and more comfortable.  But what about people like me that wear sneakers most of the time or prefer a pair sturdy sandals in summer. I’m am biased about garden working foot wear as I hate Uggs or any sort of enclosed clog-like shoe.  If you like them great but (My) feet get all sweaty feeling and the clog slips around… So let me say I won’t be covering any clogs.

I have needed to replace my sneakers for awhile and I’ve been wanting to get a little higher quality shoe rather than the $25-$35 dollar special of the week.  Well today I had great luck as Fred Meyer had a 50% sale on marked down $70.00 sneakers I picked up for about $32.00 per pair.  Now I have big foot for a women so I can usually get the men’s small sneaker or the women’s large sneaker on sale as those are the leftovers.  Are Men’s feet shrinking in the USA?  I used to get a 7 size men’s shoe and now I need a 8 1/2.  I’m in my 50’s so I think my feet have stopped growing and I have not outgrown any of my old boots and shoes. I got a nice pair of light weight Asics running shoes and New Balance sort of cross training/walking shoes for about $65.00 total for both pairs.  The trick of wearing sneakers or any shoe you wear regularly is to trade off wear of the shoe daily.  That way the two pairs of shoes will last as long as if you bought 3 pairs of shoes in succession.  For example: If one pair of sneakers lasts you 3 months.  If you buy 2 pair of sneakers and wear them on alternating days those two pair of sneakers will last 9 months.  It’s the same thing for Boots but the timeline is usually a bit longer.

Sandals:  I’m not a big fan of flip-flops or light weight sandals.  I have a pair of Columbia “River Sandal”s that are in great shape after 5 years of limited wear.  I really like the thick Vibram sole and the velcro tabs for securing the sandal.  My feet don’t get as sweaty compared to clogs and it super easy to spray off the dirt gathered when gardening.

That is the footwear I use.  Yes,  I also have boots and slippers but what I’m saying is many people do most of their prepping in sneakers and don’t always need specialized foot wear. They do need to have a good fitting pair of sneakers and know how to make them last and what sort of sneaker to store for the future.

Buying/storing footwear:

  1. When you find comfortable and sturdy  footwear buy at least 2-3 pairs of what fits you and what you are doing.
  2. If you like that foot wear buy more pairs to have in your storage.
  3. Always buy the best foot wear you can afford!  An ill fitting shoe or boot can give you blisters and even affect your foot bones after a long time.
  4. Take off your shoes and walk around barefoot or in slippers when at home.  Try on shoes late in the day to see how your foot fit in the shoe
  5. Care for your footwear, leather needs oil, waterproofing and find a local guy/cobbler that can replace a heel or sole. Twenty or thirty dollars is cheap to refurbish a pair of $200.00+ boots.

I have to say that Army combat boots are one of the greatest work boots ever.  The Gore tex winter boot sucks if you have to work at doing anything.  Don’t get me wrong the Gore tex boot is great.  If you are sitting for hours in the cold.  I stayed warmer by using my galoshes over my sneakers when I had to work. When I bought the first generation Army Gortex boot.  I would often patrol, help dig a foxhole and then sit and when I sat those boots felt like an Ice block enclosing my feet.  I’m not knocking Goretex as a product.  It just is not the solution for every environment.

Don’t preppers have access to gloves? I have seen many preppers on youtube get sliced and diced by just not having a pair of good leather gloves. I’m reminded of a old story that a man says his scars means he lived life dangerously and his wife says his scars means he led his life stupidly.

Get good gloves of leather gloves.  Hell I’ve bonk my hand with my hatchet cutting kindling and it is no big deal.  If I had not used leather gloves, I’d have a deep flesh cut to deal with if not worse.  Hell I don’t even go into Homedepot  of Lowes without at least a Jersey gloves to handle the wood. You ain’t tough dealing with splinters, you are an unprepared idiot.   Also good to know Scotch tape is great at removing small wood splinters.   Just an FYI!

End of rant.

Gosh I did not cover the bird feeder repair. I used a couple of larger tongue depressors to support the repair.  I got a little bit better at using the glue gun.  It was not a big deal as I glued a couple of tongue depressors to support  the roof of the bird feeder and it worked.  I’m glad I’m getting better using the glue gun and not a complete spaz job I did at first. The roof did end up with a bit of a flare rather compared to the barn  outline. If this repair lasts the roof line on the feeder should protect the feed/seed much better than the original design.


Burning wood that has seasoned for years

February 12, 2019

Well I started using the wood seasoned for about 2-2.5 year but good golly that wood spiked my home temps by 5+ degrees in about 20 minutes and these were very small chunks of wood!  I did not realize how much seasoned  wood I still had in my wood racks.  So far it working out great, as I’m finding older chunks of maple, cherry and apple wood to burn. The average cut and split (firewood) is about 16-18 inches long.  Most garden wagon’s width is about 18 inches.  So if you are worried if the wood chunks will fit your stove your garden wagon can be a quick guide.

If you burn wood you will need an axe, hatchet and probably a splitting maul and wedge. I also recommend at least a small battery powered or electric chainsaw to cut some of the bigger chunks of wood to size.  I understand chainsaws can be very scary as a tool.  I was a bit terrified at first using a chainsaw.  After using a small battery chainsaw on some small limbs using the tool became less scary.  Then I moved up to using an electric chainsaw, which was much less scary, but I became respectful of the tool and needed to create a safe work area.  I was confident about using an axe because I have used an axe many times in my youth.  I was not confident using a chainsaw because I never used a Chainsaw.  Using any tool is all about “Common Sense” and take it slow while you are learning.

Also what is about youtube channels of no one using gloves metal/ wood working?  I’m no “Safety Sally” about you should do this or that but using the appropriate glove type dealing with wood splinters, chemical goo or just easy cleanup should be a no brainer! I understand using gloves for some jobs is a bad thing as the material can catch and  suck an appendage into the machine.   I keep my axes sharp but my hands are saved many times cutting kindling with good leather gloves.

I do think we now have an overly safety/low risk taking society.  It’s not all about safety though that seems to be an excuse.  It is about the risk of avoiding failure that society seems to embrace.  Failure is a good thing!  How do you learn unless you make mistakes?  If your whole life is a series of mistakes that people shield you from the consequences of your actions what can a person learn?

I feel pity for AOC.  She had every advantage and she learned nothing.  The people she served as bartender were not real to her,  just serfs to fuel her elitist dreams.  Hell, I’m more down with the hood than her as I was raised by a single mother that got few classes of college.  I worked janitorial and food service and joined the Army. I loved it, Not going to make big money,  but it was honest money for an honest job.  AOC is making $174,000 for the next 2 years and if she is re-elected for 2 terms she gets a pension of $200,000 per year of benes that sets her up for life.  Yeah right she can’t find a place to rent in DC as a Representative from NY.  Hell any realtor has a nice spot for to land.  No money upfront!   You can bet AOC doesn’t have to pay first and last months rent and a deposit.


Snow, freezer full and planing the greenhouse build

February 10, 2019

SW Idaho is catching the snowfall that is coming out of the Pacific and it has been making life a bit messy.  Overall the snow is great as it helps fill the dams and aquifers full of water.  A snowy February with temps.ranging from the teens as lows and thirty’s F. for highs is sort of normal.  Fifty degrees F. in January is unusual but not unheard of here in the valley, but I really liked those 50 degree temps in January.

I got out before 10 AM to shovel the walk and we got just enough snow that the battery powered leaf blower could not clear the sidewalk.  So I shoveled about a 1/2 inch -1 inch of snow off the walk.  I salted the front walk and so far it is melting most of the new fallen snow.  I don’t use salt in the backyard sidewalks as the salt seems to irritate my dog’s feet.  Shoveling a couple of inches of snow off the back yard sidewalks is an easy job.  I was not able to get any kindling cut to refill the big bucket but I think with the boxes I have on hand at what I gave mom this week we should be able to keep the wood stoves going during this little “Snow Storm”.  About the only thing I did not get topped off is the gasoline and give the new generator a test. I need to work on that, to power the house fridge in winter. Yes I have coolers for fresh foods I could store outside/ use bags of snow for additional cooling but it is nice to power up a generator and have electricity for a few hours everyday during a power outage.

The porch freezer is mostly full! I have been buying meat on sale like a fiend and now I can sit back for while and live off that freezer.  I got the dogs homemade food stocked up for a couple of weeks and I’m feeling positive I have most of what I need on hand and I can make healthy meals for awhile.  I may have few more items to top off,  but overall I’m about as ready for a disaster as I’m capable of being ready.

I’m already starting on the prep for the garden beds.  It looks like Kellog’s soil and amendments are reducing the size of the bags and changing the price.  What I have seen so far is the soil in the bag will be cut in half and the cost of the smaller bag’s price will be cut about 1/3.  I don’t blame Kellogs as they have to make a profit and inflation will eventually hit everyone with higher costs.  What is interesting is Home depot is selling off all of the larger bags of soil at over 50% off to clear out the inventory of the larger bags.  So if you need soil and like the Kellogs product now is the time to get those bags on sale because this spring planting you won’t see a 3 cu.ft. bag of garden soil for $4.20!  I bought 16 bags so far and I hope to get another 10 bags next week when I go shopping.  This sale won’t be in the adds so check out your local store.

I have been checking out YT for building a Harbor Freight Greenhouse and it is starting to look like it will be worse than IKEA from hell to build.  Forewarned is a good thing for a build, as I may need some additional stuff.  I think using deck piers and pressure treated wood would work best for my greenhouse.  The greenhouse would be mostly protected from wind gusts. So I don’t think I need a full concrete foundation.  I knew the foundation of the green house would be a major cost but I never considered all the fiddling details.

l I have to do is get the raised bed garden ready to grow by mid April.  That is just adding little bit of lumber and some hardware.  The greenhouse may take a bit longer than I thought, but if it is ready in the Fall everything is good.

If you don’t have one get to the dollar store, buy a calendar notebook and start your own garden calendar this year!  You need to know what works and what does not, along with the timing.

I don’t often sit back and feel pride in what I have accomplished.  All to often I always see what else need doing, but overall I do feel pride in all I have done so far.  It is a pretty small thing in the whole general mish-mash.  But it is my goal that I met, my work that I have done.  You know it does give me a warm and fuzzy feeling, that I dun gud!

 

 


What to do and figuring out Priorities of work

February 8, 2019

I have a bit more cleanup to do around my garden beds and one of the cherry trees I want to take out to make room for the greenhouse.  This is a smaller tree will create a lot more open space for limbs/tree falling.  I may try limbing the tree first and then falling it with Mom’s help.  Mom would be available to help guild the tree via rope and call for help if it is needed.  The other trees will need a PRO to come in fall or clean up the trees to make them healthy.  If I can fall the small cherry tree I’ll have a clear area for my greenhouse.  If I can’t fall the tree myself,  at least I will clear an area for the Tree cutting pro’s could drop the tree.

I want  another 2×4 inch board around my raised beds so I’ll have a total of 10 inches of space to add soil for growing plants.  I need to add a drip irrigation system and use Fabric cover over the raised beds and the greenhouse to extend my growing season.  Now, I know I can grow plants.  My next step is extend the growing season and get better at preserving my harvest. My grape vine are a total mess but we have been trimming them back for a couple of years and the bad over grown section isn’t as daunting to clean up.  Perhaps a  couple of more weeks of filling my garbage cans with the excess grape vines should take care of the worst of the overgrown vine issue. I’m not sure I can wait for a warm day, but give Mom a garbage can to fill and some clippers and she is brutal on cleaning out those Grape vines.

Speaking of Mom, she got another small box of kindling.  You don’t get free paper to burn for starting wood fires easily and having easy to start wood fires in winter is darn important to us.  I love the Paraffin/ wood chip fire starters I can make in egg crates.  The ability to start a wood fire quickly is not a thing to be taken for granted.  Cutting kindling before wood burning season is something I endorse fully.  Last year I split wood but I did not make kindling.  This year I made kindling not only for myself but for Mom and it has made using a wood stove for heating a lot easier for me.

So far this winter I have used about 2 cords of wood for all my heat and it has been a relatively warm/ mild winter. I want to add another 4 cords of wood this spring even though I’ll have wood leftover this year.  It never hurts to have wood seasoning in your woodpile.  Wood to burn doesn’t spoil quickly so having it dry/season won’t hurt the wood. If I have a place to store wood for heat?… Why wouldn’t I store up as much wood as I can afford to buy?

Inflation is happening though the government is deny/cooking the numbers to make it appear low. Coffee cans have shrunk from 3 pounds/48 oz to 24-30 oz. for about the same $6.00 price tags.  Tissue paper is terrible, what was a cheap quality TP  3 years ago is now a high cost TP. But the Government says you can still by a can of coffee for about $6.00 so there is no inflation .  Despite the fact the can of coffee is 1/3 to 1/2 smaller in volume.  You can see the shrink in a 100 ways in the grocery stores.  A gallon jug of bleach is 121 oz rather than 128 oz.  Ice cream Quarts are not a quart of ice cream. It is 1/3 less oz. of ice cream. A package of meat is no longer a pound but 12-14 oz.  package.  It goes on and on, but according to government statistics inflation is low.  We know it is not low as we buy like real people and not government economists.

It is what is, right now.  I always figured on a loss of 30% of buying power via inflation or cut backs via the government.  So I’m not surprised by the loss of buying power.  It will get worse as of right now it is annoying but expected. Things like tissue paper, coffee and paper towels will cost more and you will get less product.  Gasoline is sort of low cost so get those gas cans topped off and filled with Stabil.  Lumber is a bit cheaper so stock up on 2x4s.  I don’t know what else to say other than life in the USA will cost more and you have to save money wherever you can.

I’m not complaining but when one thing gets more expensive sometimes another thing drops in cost.  You just have to find those cost savings.  It is not easy but it is doable.