New roosts installed in the chicken house and decorating via 2nd hand stores

March 5, 2015

I got the the shelving brackets installed in the chicken shed.  The bracket I used are the type with a hook that has a place for a dowel to hang a rod for hanging clothes. The roost bar is lower and I think how we have placed them will make cleaning  much easier. Where we installed the the first roost was in a bad spot and a bit higher than we should have done for placement.  We also managed to place the roost that made working in the shed in about the worst spot for us humans.  While Mom and I are hard-headed it sucks to keep smacking our noggins on a hardwood dowel everyday just to feed and get eggs. The egg production may go down a bit as the hens get used to the new roosts but we have plenty of eggs stored covered with mineral oil in the basement so we are good to go.

On Mom’s birthday last month we walked the Nampa Downtown area and stopped into some great antique shops as well as some 2nd hand stores that have “Habitat for Humanity” links for donations.  All of the measurements seem correct on a toilet replacement tank though I have to buy the whole toilet for $25.00. If the tank fits I can use the bowl as a fun planter in the garden otherwise I will have to replace the entire toilet. Even in a worse case scenario of replacing the entire toilet buying 2nd hand is a bargain.  I got a lovely print of red poppies on a field of yellow with a few pines in the background, framed for under $3.00 with my military discount. A nice bonus having Mom around, is she helps me with colors as I’m slightly Blue/Yellow color blind. I can see all colors but I do not to see pastels well and  some “tones” of colors give me fits that are not primary colors.  Mom says the new picture is great and really “pops” the colors in the living room and adds a nice counter-point to the living room colors.

Mom is having another knee surgery the 12th of this month so we are trying to finish up all 2 person jobs before her surgery. Mom has a few additional expenses this month via the divorce and taxes, so money has gotten a bit tight again! But overall we are in good shape and can absorb these little monetary surprises. I am a bit spoiled by having Mom around, as she jumps in and helps on my little projects.

If you have frozen veggies like broccoli, brussel sprouts or cauliflower, they taste great roasted in an oven. I bake at about 400 degrees for 15  minutes and then broil for about 5 minutes for a good char. I toss the veggies is melted butter with a pinch of salt and cracked pepper then toss it in the pan to bake.  I think the veggies taste much better and don’t get mushy or soggy compared to boiling them in water. You can use this technique of cooking veggies on a grill and it might work even better for taste. Never pass up an opportunity to add flavor to your cooking.

I bake my own artisan type bread and I let it rise in the fridge and don’t force gluten formation.  I saw a very interesting article about many bakeries tend to force gluten formation in baked goods via additional chemicals. I understand why some bakeries would do this because time is money. Making your own 5 minute Artisan bread makes more sense and is healthy.  My Mom is not a big bread eater but she has no problem eating my white bread.  Give her a store bought bread and her IBS kicks in big time. Very small sample and I do not believe correlation and causation are the same things. I don’t think gluten is a bad thing.  I do think all the extra chemicals to produce gluten quickly commercially is less than optimal for your diet.  You don’t have knead bread and simply leave it in the fridge for a day or two and it makes great bread.


Home repairs and cleanup is prepping!

March 3, 2015

One room is clean! I got started on cleaning the rest of the living room walls and Mom got home early from court so she jumped in and helped me Big Time! I am a smoker plus I have a wood stove in the living room so the walls get covered in smoke and tar that can be tough to clean. A few tools and cleaners really helped Mom and me get the walls clean:

  • Magic Eraser sponges: You can get generic “magic eraser sponges” cheaper at Big Lot’s or the Dollar Stores compared to the cost of the Mr. Clean magic eraser sponges. These little sponges do a great job on textured surfaces, bathtub rings and the glass on my wood stove.  A big plus for these sponge clean very well using just water.
  • A big car washing  sponge: I get these at the local dollar stores and they work great for cleaning off dirt efficiently.  These sponges also work great for cleaning pet hair off furniture and carpets when you use them slightly damp.  They work better than any lint brush I have used. When the sponge collects up hair just give it a rinse and most of the hair will fall off the sponge.
  • Get both a soft and stiff bristle scrub brushes at the dollar stores. These are cheap and you should find many ues for them around the house.  The soft bristle brushes tend to work best on hard surfaces like walls and the hard/stiff brisle brushes tend to work better on soft surfaces like rugs and fabrics.
  • Mom’s Carpet cleaner is a Bissel “Deepclean essential complete” and looks like a beast of a machine but is very easy to use with my disability.  My favorite feature besides it doing a great job cleaning a carpet, the machine is super easy to clean up after you are done.  My old carpet cleaner had all kinds of nooks and cranny’s that were almost impossible to get clean without dismantling it. This carpet cleaner is a breeze to clean the tank, the beater bar and where the dirty water is sucked into the machine.  I also recommend the cordless bissel spot bot if you have pets or kids for small little carpet messes.
  • Dawn dish soap: This is about the best multi-surface cleaners I have used. From dishes to a fabric spot remover to cleaning walls it is great. If you find the concentrated version buy it!
  • Spray cleaners: I used First Street Degreaser that I bought at Cash in Carry for around $4.50 per gallon. Mom used Lysol Lemon scent multi-surface cleaner/anti-bacterial, she can buy for $2.00-$2.50 per quart. Both worked great on cleaning the tar stains on the walls but the First Street degreaser was a bit cheaper by the gallon.  I have tried both Bleach and sudsy Ammonia to clean my walls and both the Lysol and First Street cleaner did a better job without all of the fumes or smell of bleach or ammonia.  Always follow the directions on the cleaner as adding more cleaner will not make it work better. Heck a few times I was driven out of the barracks in the Army by simple pine-sol becuase some idiot figured if a little works good more will make it clean faster/better! Trust me it is not true of Pine-sol and playing that game with ammonia or bleach can seriously harm or kill you.

Some people claim “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”. I looked it up in the dictionary and cleanliness is next to cleavage. LOL Seriously, having a clean home is a very good idea for preparedness. A little dust and dirt will not hurt you normally but if the grid goes down for a couple of weeks.  I know I want every dish and pan in the house clean, laundry is done, bathroom is clean, floors are vacumed/mopped. If you do a deep clean in Spring and Fall and keep up basic cleanliness every week, you can let indoor cleaning slide for a week or two in a disaster. Since I usually have no  idea when a disaster will hit I do normal cleaning, If a storm is coming I clean everything that requires power such as vacuuming or washing clothes prior to the storm.  I have a couple of good size generators with fuel and oil so I can run my fridge and freezer for a couple of weeks and perhaps run a couple of other appliances. But fuel will run out eventually and giving yourself some time to adjust to the new normal is well worth the work.

As you deep clean you start to notice things around the house that need fixing. Perhaps it is simple  little water leaks/dripping faucets, paint, caulking or somewhat major like a cracking foundation.  This is a great time to try DIY type projects and the internet is chockful of instructions for simple plumbing or carpentry jobs. I will admit I’m a bit skittish on any DIY  plumbing job that requires turning off the water main. I have plenty of water stored, but I also know how much effort is involved to move/heat water. Trust me it sucks even with practice!

As a prepper you should learn basic home repair skills, have the tools needed to do the job. Because if tshf you may be on your own. But putting off a plumbing job long enough for the apocalypse is probably not wise idea!  While you may not be able to pay off your home, you can make basic repairs and improve your security a little bit each month.



Toilet tank was cracked before I finished breaking it

March 1, 2015

I pulled the tank off the toilet and removed all the bolts and new guts I had installed in order to use the part for the replacement tank. When I removed the nut for the overflow pipe the tank just fell into two pieces. No wonder I had a heck of a time trying to find/fix the leak! Lesson learned; if the tank leaks and the floor is getting wet, pull the tank and inspect it for cracks. The toilet bowl looks good and I have not found any cracks around the bolt holes for attaching the tank.  I think I can get a replacement toilet at one of the 2nd hand/recycled building materials stores for around $25.00. I put the broken tank in the mini-van so I can make sure everything will match up before I buy the replacement toilet/tank.

If you have one of those 2nd hand/recycling building supply stores in your area it is something to check out for parts and stuff to repair your home. One of the stores in Nampa is affiliated with Habitat for Humanity and has all kinds of furniture and stuff donated from a motel/hotel when they updated their interior decor.  You can get some matching furniture pieces for a very good price and it is usually in good condition if just a bit dated for interior design colors the lines of the furniture are classic and nothing says you can’t re-cover or get a fabric furniture cover in the color you like until you can afford the furniture you want in your home. While a tad more expensive than  the”plastic milk crates/cinder block look” the furniture is of good quality.  I found some items that could make great book shelves though the original purpose may have been bed head boards that hung on the wall of the motel room. These head boards have a wood finished and molding attached that will help keep things in place.  While not the built-in wrap around the room bookshelves I have always wanted, I think a few of these “headboards” could work as a shelves for both books and potted plants in my front bedroom.

Mom and I walked Downtown Nampa and found some very cool 2nd hand shops used books and antique stores. We stopped by the candy store and I bought Mom some taffy and chocolate then headed for Messenger Pizza.  I don’t normally like thin crust pizza but this place is the exception. A slice of pizza takes two paper plates and the also have a nice salad bar, fresh made bread and rolls and craft beers. Mom had the Clam chowder in a homemade wheat sourdough bowl and said it is some of the best clam chowder she has tasted! Mom worked food service for years so she knows good food! I sort of think of myself as a “foodie” but Mom has more years experience compared to me. Eating out is a treat and with food inflation, if you get a good meal for under $10.00 per person you are getting good value.

I finally got the J-hooks, pulleys and rope up for the clothes line on the patio. Funny it was supposed to be damp weather today and as soon as I got the system set up the clouds broke away the Sun came out and stayed all day.  The temp. got up to 45 degrees F. with very little wind. While the clothes did not completely dry in about 6 hours on the line they dried much more than I expected.  The J-hooks and pulley system worked out better than expected under less than optimal conditions. Four loads of wet clothes from heavy towels to sheets to jeans cleaned and dried in less than 12 hours utilizing a new outdoor clothes line and a few drying racks around the wood stove. Overall, not bad results for a non-electric drying system in February.  I may just buy some clothes line and tie it off via the Eye hooks that were used before I moved into this house. Then I will have another cheap clothesline that can take advantage of any breezes and sunshine.

Diana the peke is not getting better with the Steroid treatment.  Oh it helps keep her mobile and somewhat out of pain, but it is not curing what is wrong with her back. It’s a little early but I’m going to try a half tablet daily dosage of the Predisone and see how Diana does on that dosage. While I don’t like the idea of long term oral steroids, my next option is putting her down as I can’t afford major surgery on a 12 year old dog. Diana has been a great dog and I will not see her in pain just because I want her in my life. Perhaps the vet will give me a prescription for steroids as a maintenance dosage. I understand the vet’s point of view of using steroids long term but the treatment options I can afford are limited. Even if I was rich investing several thousand dollars in a 12 year old dog is stupid at best. Keeping the dog out of pain as long as possible is best as I see it and if Diana the peke  needs to move on.  I’m good with that though I will miss her.


ARRRGH! I broke the toilet tank

February 26, 2015

Well so much for tightening up the bolts with a wrench. I went very slowly but there is no warning when you crack the porcelain, but the floor is very clean now! I have not found a replacement tank yet though I’m checking out some of the 2nd hand/recycle stores for a tank or even a used toilet that has a tank that will fit my toilet.  It might be that the tank already had some cracks or chipping around the bolt holes and that is why it was leaking.  While my learning curve has been high I’m glad I have been replacing water shut off valves as this makes it easy to isolate the problem without turning off the water main. Having those valves makes this broken tank mildly inconvenient rather than an emergency.

I don’t want to scare anyone away from trying out some DIY repairs.  Making mistakes has always been a part of my learning process. So while a little peeved about breaking the tank but,  if I could not fix the leak I would have had to buy a new tank or toilet anyway. I learned a very valuable lesson about how to tighten bolts on porcelain so it was not a total loss!  These are things I sort of count as my cost of education.  I think having the ability to do minor repairs around the house will be a critical skill in the future. The tools and parts you have on hand for those repairs should be part of your prepping.  Minor plumbing is one of the best skills you can learn and practice. I’m not belittling skilled plumbers as they craftsman who can do a job efficiently. But I have worked electronics repair and I’m sure it as frustrating to a “good” plumber to have to clear a clog as it was for me to tell a person to defrag a hard drive and run a scan. Sure you get paid for the house call and it pays the bills but the simple things that anyone could repair is actually a waste of the knowledge and skill. I’m sure there are more than a few of those guys that want to add to the bill a “Stupid tax”.  Goodness knows I wanted to add that tax to some of the repairs I did on PCs.

Mom and I are hoping to do our “walk” around downtown Nampa Friday rather than Karcher Mall.  Of course a little storm is moving in, but as long as it isn’t to windy or rainy we can handle it. I want to take Mom to lunch for her birthday as well as see all of changes they are making to the downtown area.  Downtown Nampa has become a great place for small business and this summer a new Co-Op is going in along with the Farmer’s market and new shops it is getting a nice make over. I’m not quite sure how to explain it but the driving force seems to be high-tech, but back to land sort of Millennial generation, if that does not sound like a contradiction in terms.

These are the kids that did the “right” things they were  told to be a success.  But found no jobs and got saddled with massive debt. But what is so cool is how many are not whiners and they got to work on raising chickens, growing gardens and making food from scratch.  They also embrace social networking, streaming shows over the internet and using technology.  They have embraced rain barrels and solar panels, wood stoves and Ipads and they don’t see any dichotomy nor are they Luddites to decry all technology as evil. I’m not one to say “kids these days are soft”  while some are that live in a protected bubble. A lot of kids are changing things for the better and incorporating old school skills with high tech.  These kids are creating wireless mesh networks, cell phone apps that turn every cell phone into a walkie-talkie, some are working the Ham radio freqs and satellite uplinks into a internet that mostly bypasses the gate keepers. I can kill my Internet connection and still print flyers on my little $20.00 printer no matter what the PTBs do to stifle dissent the people will find a way to communicate and trade!

The director of DHS Jeh Johnson thinks Sovereign Citizen movement is critical because in the last 4 years Nation-wide there have been approx. 24 shoot outs with cops that maybe connected.  In Chicago there have been over 500 shootings that were declared gang-related in 2014 alone.  No, I don’t see the average sovereign citizen as a critical threat to me and mine. Always remember to put statistics in prospective. There are over 315 million Americans in the USA according to the last census. 24 incidents of “violence” is about the equivalent of folks that have Bic lighters exploding in their pants and burning down a home.

A few different priorities and a time crunch

February 24, 2015

It seems that I have been in recovery mode since the mad dash to get Mom moved in and then the Holidays hit. So all of Feb. has evolved in crisis management and getting by until we find a fix for how life goes.  I hate “crisis management” and I prepare so I can avoid that situation as much as possible.  Overall I give think we rated a 7 out of 10 for handling the move and the divorce things that were time critical, though I underestimated the rest and recovery part of this little event.  Plus we had a few minor little items of critters getting sick as well as a major appliance deciding it was a good time to stop working. So both cash reserves took a hit and trying out new work arounds for dealing with a broke dryer added some stress.

I was going to add the pulley clothes line to my patio when I noticed a couple of Eye hooks from my patio to a beam planted in the backyard that looks like it held a clothesline. While the clothes line crosses the yard the impact on my work should be minimal and the drying clothes will still be protect from the full force of the sun yet catch more of the wind to assist in drying. Screwing the J-Hooks into the wood will be easy and I can slip the pulleys off the hooks if a really nasty windstorm comes through the area.  So far Mom and I can dry almost everything we wash inside using drying racks around the wood stove though the living room feels a bit crowded. Adding the clothes line will eliminate that little problem in good weather.

Mom has another knee surgery coming up in March that we hope the surgeon can clean up the scar tissue build up from the last surgery. So Mom will be less than 100% going into Spring and I will have to help her while she has limited mobility.  I have to say Mom has spoiled me with all she is doing, from the dishes/cleanup and assisting  my little projects. While I can do many things myself having and extra pair of hands an extra set of eyes or someone to bounce around ideas and brainstorm is wonderful! I sort of envy couples and families that are on the same wavelength about financial stuff and prepping.  While there can be a difference in priorities, they do find a way to get the critical stuff done.

I finally replace the toilet tank bolts and I still have a drip.  I have a very hard time calibrating “hand-tightening” bolts as my strength is much weaker compared to most people.  I think since the tank is older I may have to use wider rubber washers compared to the standard or add water proof putty/sealant of some sort. I don’t want to replace my old fashioned toilet for a new water saving type that require 2-3 flushes to work. I think I’m getting close to stopping the small leak but it is taking more time and effort than I originally thought.   If you decide to use a hose to drain your modern washer rather than use the sewage/drain line make sure it is kink free and less than 25 feet or less in length.  Based on my experience a washer will not get rid of all the water via the spin/rinse cycles using a 50 foot or a kinked hose.

Some new developments might be coming up here at Casa de Chaos, that I hope may work out for a small income stream and perhaps a teaching opportunity for me.  It’s funny that the “Progressives” think all good must be government mandated and truly hate preppers/survivalists that teach people to be independent and self reliant.

Third week drying clothes without the electric dryer and washing walls

February 22, 2015

After working with the racks I have on hand I’m quite surprised there was a learning curve about how you  arrange clothing on your racks and how much difference having a fan to move air made a difference in drying clothes indoors.  Now it seems intuitive but when I started heat seemed to be the priority.  The new shelf bracket behind the wood stove is working out great for thick towels and throw rugs.  If you are thinking about not using your electric or gas dryer, I would recommend getting as many clip clothing hangers from stores as possible. Now many stores remove those hangers at the checkout stands but some will let you take those hangers home for free if you ask!  These clip hangers are great for drying all sorts of items, from small rugs to large sheets.  So far Mom and I have been able to dry our two loads of washing in about 24 hours as we have learned a how to hang the damp clothes in order to make them dry quickly as possible.  I would recommend you have at least three sets of things the take the longest drying time.  We are older gals with no rug rats to clean up after.  I think (2) three day cycles of  a set of one clean set, one dirty set and one drying might make washing twice a week do able for many families.  This sort of a starting guideline, much of what you do will depend on your circumstances and your resources.  Do you have a generator that will power you washer through the wash and rinse cycle?  Or are you you using a wash tub and a plunger?  There is nothing wrong with either, as they work are a around but how you dry clothes maybe different.  Practice your setup now and learn those little tweaks that you can only learn by doing. One thing I have learned using drying racks inside is put your thickest cloth at the back of your drying rack as heavy cloth blocks air flow for drying!  I put the heavy/thick cloth closest to the heat and fan and all I got was a dry towel and all small items like undies and socks were damp.

First Street degreaser is very good for cleaning walls that have tar stains from a smoker. Add  bit of Dawn Dish soap in a rinse bucket and you will have a great wall cleaner no matter what type of dirt you face.  Add a couple of cheap dollar store soft bristle scrub brushes and some of the “Magic eraser” sponges and you will be ready for most Spring cleaning needs.

If the SHTF, you probably won’t face a Mad Max or Zombies scenario.  I’m not saying things won’t get tough but I think most neighborhoods will band together for mutual protection. While I would not count on that happening it is possible and has happened when people face a disaster. You might be the “local nut” preaching prepping in your neighborhood or town.  Please don’t treat everyone as “sheep” as you will need help to survive. No one person can do it all! Can you feed yourself after a 7 year drought? This happened in the Midwest in the 1930’s.  I think the Bible is true and could you survive a 7 year famine with some warning?  I don’t understand people that think that 6 months of food is enough, while talking about the Tempo Famine that lasted 4 years. In the Weimar Republic bread prices escalated in less than 10 years from about a US quarter a loaf to over a  billion dollars per loaf.  I think many people think that sounds great, but you are buying on that economy! Can you bake bread and do you have all the ingredients on hand or stored?  Perhaps you have gold or silver stored and you may think you can trade but you have to recognize some people will not sell based on survival.



Picked up the last items for the clothesline

February 17, 2015

Lowes had the clothes line pulley I wanted, the wheels are a hard plastic but it has an aluminum frame.  I went with two heavy duty tie-down hooks to attach the pulleys to the house under the patio awning. My hope is the hooks will allow the pulleys to move with the wind rather than bend/ break if I installed a more rigid attachment.  Overall the cost so far is two pulley at $3.49 each, two of the tie down hooks $1.99 each and 50 feet of “clothes” line for $9.00. I think I got a good deal as most drying racks are over $20.00 and  the Umbrella type clothes lines/dryers are over $50.00 new. Plus I don’t have to dig any holes or set poles in concrete to make the clothes line stable and sturdy!

True Value had the shelf brackets with hook to hang behind the wood stove for another drying area. I have a rod I can use with clothes hangers for drying plus I get additional shelf space. We hung a four-foot long mirror then added the shelf brackets below the mirror and I think it looks pretty good. The shelf is on standby until I get my check this week, perhaps a couple of small hanging plants and then everything will be complete.

Mom and I wash about two loads of laundry each week on average so we are not a good example of drying needs compared to a family with kids. Between the drying racks and the  pulley clothes line system we have a fairly inexpensive way to dry clothes both inside and outside the house.  FYI: the little mini-green house works as a drying rack after you remove the cover and the shelves.

I love the cordless/battery-powered Bissel spotbot! This was the low-end model without the hands free or the carpet beater bar you see in the more expensive systems but it still has a small scrub brush built-in and will work on both carpets and hard surface type floors. While I still have to do cleanup with the older dogs tinkling on the carpet. The cleanup for potty spots are down to about one a day and the dogs no longer pooping in the house. The cordless spotbot is easy to use and makes clean up a breeze.  One of the hardest thing about “house training” dogs is eliminating the smell of where they piddle as the dogs tend to back to their potty spots. All of our dogs are getting older and have some health problems so I’m not sure we can keep the dogs from piddling in the house.  If they do piddle the little spot bot will help clean up after the pups.  If you have carpets, pets or small children the Bissel spot bot is a good buy at $50.00 or less. To keep your hour home’s rugs clean and as sanitary as possible. Plus the little cordless spot bot is so quick and easy to use compared to sponges, paper towels, scrub brushes and spray cleaner. The procedure that seems to work best with the spot bot is suck up what liquid first, spray a bit of carpet cleaner on the spot and then scrub/suck up all liquids making sure you work the carpet’s nap and against the nap.

I will be getting another Linksys 54 gl type router to try out the mesh network protocol that Matt suggested. The walkie-talkie cell phone app has some potential as an off-grid idea.  I’m a little less than impressed by the NSA has read every email or listen to every cell phone intell agency. I have no doubt the NSA has collected the data but they simply don’t have the analysts that can make sense of the data or unable to sell it to the PTBs.  The NSA infected all hard drives yet they seem incapable of understanding Putin!  Remeber don’t get intimdated, you are a needle in a haystack of other needles! Don’t get cocky either and be smart about your security and communications.

Great price alert: Amazon has a great deal on the Sawyer mini water filters that are good for several thousand gallons of water. A four pack of water filter systems for under $70.00 and the filters are different color so each person can have their own filter!  Best price I have seen in years and these systems don’t take up much space in a BOB or a GHB. These filters will handle most of the most of the germs from open water sources though are not great about chemicals or hazardous waste.  Personally I think the Sawyer system beats “Life Straw” because of the amount of water it will filter in its lifetime. I think each homeowner should have a big gravity fed water filter and each family member should have an adequate water filter in their BOB/GHB. While you will not need it in most disasters, planned redundancy is a good thing for all preppers.


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