A good day scrounging and hitting a yard sale, plus a hot day this weekend

August 3, 2015

I picked up a garden wagon of rock from neighbor A across the alley.  I got many large “river rocks”, five larger sized Basalt/igneous rocks and a lot of smaller sized chunks of petrified wood.  Those rocks complete the border around my patio “kitchen” area, though I will need to adjust the placement all of the stone border to make it look good.  Creating a stone border costs a lot of money if you buy rocks at the local big box store.  This way I save a bit of money and neighbor A saves time and energy not carting off rocks that do not fit her yard plans.  Neighbor A gave me a few sheets of corrugated clear plastic that was  in a trash trailer.  The stuff is thin enough to fold and needs to sit in the sun with a bit of weight to flatten out for my wood pile roof installation.  I don’t need “pretty” I need materials that will repel water and keep the wood pile dry this winter.

At the local yard sale Mom picked up a thick flannel sheet set, I got a queen size quilt and a battery powered camp lantern.  Mom scored some really nice lounge/camp ($70.00-$100.00 new)  chairs for $7.00 each that will be great for a camp or yard set up.

Saturday was a very hot day! 108 degrees F. on the backyard patio temp. gauge and no breeze to speak of. I have a very well shaded backyard and it tends to be cooler here at Casa de Chaos than the official temp. for the city of Nampa. Sunday will be another scorcher and then a massive drop of at least 20 degrees for the high, thunder bumpers and rain.  While the weather is less than optimal from my prospective. It really is not “extraordinary” compared to other weather I have dealt with since the early 1980’s.  I think a very cold winter is coming, in this area and I would not be surprised if we see -10 to -20 below zero F. for a few weeks this winter.  I can’t say what you should do, but I’m stacking cash for firewood as quickly as I can and ordering two cords of wood for the next 3 paychecks.  I know that is a lot of wood and I hope to get a bit more so I have enough wood on hand for at least two seasons of winter heating.

Cash on hand:  “The prospect of hanging tends to focus the mind”.  I’m still working on my Emergency Fund but suddenly I am finding myself a bit more motivated to get my cash savings built up now, rather than doing it “someday”.  In any sort of economic collapse with fiat currency, physical cash tends to run out quickly yet is still valued. As we have seen banks can close for a “Holiday” and I don’t want to be like the Greeks that stand in a line for hours each day just withdraw $60.00 in order to pay bills.

Not a fun idea and I doubt the folks you meet will have a positive outlook.

 


Finished cleaning out all the gutters, cleaned up the yard and traded some veggies!

July 28, 2015

I’m tired, but it is the good sort of tired you feel when you get stuff done. I got both of the gutters in the front of the house cleaned out and I noticed the front down spout chains had several extra links that tend to block the down “spout”/drain.  I drilled a couple of holes at the end of one of the gutters where water pools up if the down spout/chain is blocked.  The water from the drilled holes drains into the lawn away from the foundation so the basement should be safe from water and the roof area won’t have a standing pool of water that will attack the wood along the roof line.  I have to say that I have had no problem with water in my basement since I installed the gutters.

The little 3 week heat wave of 100+ degrees F. took its toll on the yard and I got a few brown spots in the lawn.  I did pretty good over all on limited watering (my choice). Mom did a bit of direct water in the backyard and I tried to keep water usage down in the front yard but, I added lawn “feed” just before the hot spell and the timing just sucked.  Adding a good lawn feed just before a heat wave almost guarantees brown grass.  I am adding water slowly, mowed the grass and it should recover in time.  I got the kiddy pool/new strawberry bed,  painted, drilled for drainage + soil, set up in the front yard.  I think Mom was less than enthusiastic about using a kiddy pool idea as strawberry bed,  but she likes it and I got several positive comments about it pool looking good/great idea from the neighbors.   The alley garden is doing great since I added the wood mulch. It is not perfect as it takes some time for a new ground cover to become established and choke out the weeds. Early days yet, but if I can convince enough neighbors to invest in mulch and good ground covers, eventually we can eliminate the nasty weeds in a few years.  Building/maintaining a good soil naturally takes time, effort and energy. It won’t happen overnight and using Round up or some other type of “grass killer” usually kills the soil and you spend more money hauling in good soil/manure and other minerals to replace what the chemicals killed.

Neighbor “A” borrowed my de-thatching rake as the planted grass looked great when he bought the house but the soil was terrible and the first heat wave killed the grass! A used my de-thatching rake this weekend and I think the grass looks a bit better. Getting rid of all the thatch that was dead and clogging up the soil growth might be why the lawn is looking better.   The Buttercrunch lettuce and swiss chard held up very good during the heat wave. The Kale is doing much better than I expected in the front yard beds.  Plants seldom work out the way I foresee in my garden. Often what I think will work, doesn’t and a plant I take chance on explodes with growth.  So if things don’t work out the way you think they should in your garden, you are not alone. I’m constantly surprised by what comes out of my raised beds.

I traded a few cukes for a bit of early summer squash/Zucchini with a neighbor. I focused on winter type squash for storage this year rather than summer squash. Mom is looking for a few good cuke pickle recipes. I tend to like a “dill pickle” but I think Mom wants more of a sweet pickle relish or sweet canned pickle.  If you have good recipe for refrigerator pickles or canned pickles I’d would love a recipe.

Smokey the cat has not like the new pekes and it is taking time to find some work around to make all the critters happy. Smokey is not a “lap cat” she like to hunt and patrol so she is not big on comfort though she does want/need a safe base of operations. Tucker the peke is big on play and “chase the cat” seems to be high on his play list.  I setup the front porch for Smokey and opened a window so she can come and go as she please, food and a safe a dry spot to rest without dealing with the dogs. Smokey the cat does seem much happier and relaxed. Plus she seems to recognize the different dogs that want to play “Chase the cat”.  I’m trying to introduce the cat and new dogs, so my cat feels safe and that takes time.

Overall I got a lot the little jobs around the house done and got some extra work done on setting up Smokey’s kitty spot. I would recommend you get the “costco type” multifunction ladder for your tool kit.  I’m disabled but even I can clean gutters if I have a good solid ladder.


Odds and ends…

July 21, 2015

I did a bit of work on the bugout bag (BOB) and reduced the weight another 3 pounds emptied an exterior pocket for some supplies that might need quicker access rather than buried in the main cargo area. I’m sort of torn about using a 1 quart military canteen and the metal drink bottles as each have limitations.  Using multi-tasker and keeping the BOB as lightweight as possible is a bit of a balancing act that I have not managed yet!

I did a couple of tests on striking a spark on bars of flint and what I found works best is not a knife blade but the file “blade” on my “Leatherman” multi-tool.  I have no problem if a person wants a big fixed blade knife but I have always carried small pocket knives or muti-tools like Letherman/gerber or Swiss army knife and using a blade as the “steel” part of steel and flint always bothered me because that can ruin your knife’s edge and sharpness. I can sharpen a knife’s blade but why do that when the “file blade” creates more sparks on flint/sparker stick?

In the alley way beds the moss rose that got the latest wood mulch has really taken off adding growth and blooms. The sunchokes are also looking much better since I added the wood mulch.  As far as cleaning up the nasty weeds like goatheads/puncture vine, I’m digging them out using a shovel and I filled a 30 gallon trash can full of mostly goatheads.  I know I could kill the weeds at anytime but most of those products kill the soil as well as the weeds.  I’m trying to build some good soil and add plants that will crowd out the weeds not kill the soil.  The wood mulch has really done a great job choking out many weeds and giving the new plants a good growing medium. Most of the nasty weeds are happening along the borders and between property lines.  Mama nature does not recognize property lines and if I can dig up a few weeds with the help of a neighbor I will do it.  One neighbor killed the weeds and killed the soil so there is nothing to hold the dirt in place.  One thing I have learned about the alley way beds is you must block new weed growth and you must have new plants that work with Mama nature to start replacing those weeds.  I really think that weeds are mama nature’s paramedics for poor and neglected soil. make the soil healthier and you will stop having weeds you don’t like having around your yard.  It is a slow process and a lot of work building up your soil, but I prove it is doable with a bit of effort and adding just a bit of natural products as you can afford it.

I totally scored today as some on put a grill in the alley along with the trash.  I did not need a grill but I got another propane tank I can use. Perhaps many people think nothing of the cost of an empty propane tank in the store ($25.00-$35.00) or buying a tank from the local mega-mart ($46.00-$50.00) or empty tank replacement ($17.00-$20.00) I do think about those costs. I’m cooking nearly every meal this summer over a gas grill/outdoor kitchen and that takes propane or charcoal.  Even if the propane tank is old style, many places will replace it with a new “safety/government approved” type tank.

Some sad news Mom is having Bear the peke put down. He lasted a bit longer than the vet forecast last year but the guy is starting to go downhill fast and it is time. Mom will hold him until Bear’s final goodnight and he will be pain free. Mom is very strong that way.  The new pekes will help with minimizing the hurt and will build a new pack dynamic and both Brodie and Tucker are a hoot.  Those pekes have let me know they must go for a ride, so when I get gas this week they will get their ride into the country!

Life goes on, we live and we die, we win or we lose. Sometimes we get caught up in the ‘game” and a new dog who sees a backyard as a new playground can ignite in us what life is about. You are not your car, your house, or your stock portfolio. You are a human made by the grace of God and flawed by the choices you make via freewill. I don’t worry anymore about Presidents or politicians, Bankster or corporations. Oh I tried to change the system but I can’t do it so why try the impossible when I can do more good locally via my garden than an Congress critter pontificating in the media?  You can play the “game” and bang your head against the wall.  Or you can remove yourself from the game of wall, save yourself headache and stop annoying the wall.


Rain gutter #2 cleaned out, chimney cleaned and lots of yard cleanup!

July 18, 2015

I got the second rain gutter on the back half of the house cleaned out. The hardest part of the job was cleaning out the grape vines and a morning glory type weeds so I could setup the ladder without it rocking.  I love the look of water going down the chains in place of the normal downspouts but the chains catch all sort of debris and may block your rain gutters from draining properly.  You have to be pro-active with your cleaning or add covers to your gutters to keep most of the debris out!  Cleaning out my rain gutters has been much simpler and faster than I had anticipated.  I have a single story home and the gutters I”m cleaning are about 12-15 feet long run.  So cleaning my gutters is pretty straight forward compared to many homes with a second story.

The “chimney sweep” arrived today and got the wood stove ready for this winter and even swept my roof while she was up there.  If you are in the Nampa area and need some chimney work or cleaning I would recommend going with Dr. Soot.  I have used them for 2 years and they are super clean doing the work and sweeping my roof clear of branches and leaves for no additional cost was nice.  $85.00 for a good 2-3 hours worth of work is a great price.  I have a very good/clean burning  wood stove and I could skate and get it cleaned every other year. But I use my wood stove only for heat in the winter and my life depends on it so not a good thing to go “cheap” on. I have Carbon Monoxide detectors, 2 Smoke detectors over sleeping rooms and 5 Fire extinguishers  in bed rooms or rooms close to the wood stove and one in the kitchen.  I lived through one chimney fire as a kid. I will do my best not to repeat that  experience again as an adult.

I dug up the goatheads/puncture vines in the alley way and pouring straight vinegar on goatheads had no effect whatsoever on killing it back. In fact I think the goatheads liked the added acid to the dirt/clay in the alley way area.  Dumping wood ash on the alley way, weed areas did a great job on killing most weeds of all types this spring.  Adding a deep layer of wood mulch is making a  big difference on the growth of my mossy rose ground cover and the sun chokes are greening up and adding new growth. I know I could use a bit of Round up weed killer and kill the weeds as well as the soil but I prefer to take a bit more time and work long term on the alley way beds.  The wood mulch is making a big difference on how the plants I want to have, grow. The wood ash is a darn good weed killer yet adds a bit of carbon back into a depleted soil.  Last but not least, all of the weeds are not growing in the new alley way beds but spreading from poor soil along the edges. It seems adding in a deep layer of mulch and new plants that thrive in poor soil will drive out the bad weeds in time.

Neighbors A &S ask for more of the essential oil pain relief salve and are now true believers on how well it works for all kinds of pain. Heck my Mom was having back spasms and she had no idea how well it works on cramps and muscle spasms.  I don’t know why a few drops of essential oils in a salve of coconut oil and natural beeswax works so well as a great topical pain killer but I will keep on using it and recommending other people try it out.  The pain relief salve will not stop all pain though it does a great job on muscle spasms and cramps I have used it on.  It does take away most of my bone & joint pain via blown knees and broken bones that ache when the weather changes. I had a shoulder tendon act up and 3 days of rest and using the pain relief salve got the shoulder working again mostly pain free.  If you have pain please try out the essential oil salve for a couple of days. At worst your skin will like the natural oils and beeswax. It won’t hurt you or have adverse side effects and the salve smells nice.

Last but not least I got my first sugar baby water melon in the garden. I never had any melon grow in my beds until this year.  The blackberry plant got a feed and the strawberry plant is putting on new growth since I moved it to middle of the yard.  A nice thing about container gardening is you can move a pot or bucket until the plant finds it’s happy place.


One rain gutter clean and some good deals shopping

July 17, 2015

I cleaned up my first gutter on my house. It was easier and went more quickly than I had anticipated. I did not climb on the roof, instead I set up the multi-function ladder as an A-frame and my little hand held “Hula Hoe” fit the gutter perfectly to clean out all the old leaves and gunk. The gutter cleaning wand works okay for washing small stuff out of the gutter but if you have a lot of leaves and debris built up you need to clean that stuff out by hand. I’m still glad I bought the gutter wand as the telescoping feature works great for cleaning off tall vehicles like SUV/Mini-vans, plus it develops a respectable amount of pressure considering it is just attached to a garden hose.

I used the little B&D chainsaw to trim back the Lilac bushes that were hanging over the gutters. I did a better job trimming the bushes back and the lilac bush still looks okay, instead of like it was attacked by semi-demented beavers on Meth.  The little saw cut a dead rose bush to ground level and I got a start cutting up some of the fruit wood trimmings my neighbor let me have for the use of the battery powered chainsaw.  Speaking for myself, using the small battery powered chainsaw has reduced my fear-factor of using any chainsaw. While an electric or battery powered chainsaw won’t have the cutting power of a gas saw. They can do a great job on the little jobs you don’t want to break out a gas chainsaw on.  Another bonus is Battery powered chainsaws are relatively quiet compared to a gas saw.

I stopped by the local True value store and picked up some spray paint. Don’t buy the generic “GPM” spray paint as it is awful at any price. I got a can of the new Rustoleum 2 X primer/ paint and it is a bit more expensive but it can be used for wood, metal or plastic.  I sprayed a bit of the 2X paint on the kiddy pool designated for the new, larger Strawberry bed and it was a joy to use, with fast coverage in one sweep of the spray paint can.  Sometimes you can go cheap on price, Paint seems to be an item that “you get what you pay for”.  I know one can of “brand name” white gloss spray paint bought for $3.49  on sale covered  more than 2 cans of the cheap GPM paint bought for $2.99 and I painted the plywood first with paint, before using the cheap spray cans for a 2nd coat of paint.

On to grocery shopping and I got 4 boxes of ritz crackers on sale with a coupon for $1.49 a box. I lived on my preps for two months and my “inner snacker” was sorely challenged by living on rice and beans. I think everyone that preps should add salty and sugar snacks either to their storage or learn to make those snacks/goodies out of their food storage. I got another family pack of sirloin steaks for $3.88 per pound and bacon/pork is finally coming down in price. I got a lovely Rib roast ($1.48 per pound)and a pound of local pepper bacon  for $2.99. If you live in a place that has agricultural you tend to see lower prices. Or that is how it has been working in S.W Idaho so far.

My little moss rose that got the wood mulch treatment finally got a bloom. I think the sun chokes are starting to look a bit more healthy after adding the mulch, along getting some rainstorms and cooler weather.  I moved the strawberry bucket to a new location with a bit more sun and the plant is putting out new growth. I’m still working on the little blackberry plant, trying to find a happy spot and feed it. My golden raspberry is very happy hanging out in the rose bed in it’s pot. I assumed that raspberries and blackberries required the same growing conditions. Raspberries do better with poor soil and a bit of neglect compared to blackberries need more feed and mulch to really get growing. I also learned don’t place Black berries hate being close to strawberries as the plants compete for  the same resources and will share bad bugs.

I got the local chimney sweep coming in to clean the wood stove this weekend. I am planning to start buying wood in August trying to get ahead of the rush this Fall.  I feel like I’m getting started late simply because I am aware of how quickly things can go all “higgely piggley”. I tend to spend a lot of energy trying to get ahead of the “power curve” and I plan for the worst and I’m often wrong about timing. I like being wrong on timing,  though I think I’m right on the basic math, I seldom take in consideration how far/ motivation of the PTBs can keep kicking the can down the road.

I really can’t say when the SHTF. I think it may happen soon based on math and you should get ready and prepare. But I’m not well versed in the can kicking done by the PTBs and how long that can last.

Do your best to cover the basic needs.Start learning  about growing plants, whatever your  “inner voice leads you”. Start practicing cooking out doors and set up an outdoor kitchen. You don’t need much but a basic gas grill a couple of propane tanks or a fire pit and good cast iron cookware to get started. Start small and build up as you learn.


Thinking about human waste short term and long term

July 14, 2015

totalsurvivalistblog commented “As to sanitation. That is probably a week(sic) point in our current situation. Still we have enough space to run slit trenches and chamber pots for a really long time. This plan needs some work.”

That got me thinking about the concept of an above ground composting toilet as a solution.  Instead of building an above ground composting toilet/outhouse over sealed bricks or concrete base, couldn’t a person use water tight barrels to dump the chamber pots, 5 gallon buckets and or porta-potty’s that many of us plan on using short term?

My short term sanitation plan now:

  • Five gallon buckets/camp porta-potty to hold daily waste, I have straw, sawdust/wood chips and wood ash to cover waste as the bucket is used.  Note to self, I need to buy a toilet brush for cleaning out/sanitizing the buckets after they are dumped!   Waste is stored in a construction grade trash bag when full and hope the trash guys will haul it away before it becomes a problem.  Hope/trust in the government is not a very good strategy for a prepper.
  • The outdoor above ground composting toilet/outhouse has most of the work done in the chambers and the outhouse portion is based on the building materials of a 3rd world village, but we can buy used 15- 55 gallon barrels or 30 gallon trash cans for $50.00 or less.
  • For example you have a 30 gallon trash barrel placed on concrete. You put a 3-6 inch layer of straw in the bottom of the barrel. Add a screened vent for gasses to the trash can lid, then dump your potty bucket daily into the barrel.  Add the date when the barrel is full and use it for non-edible plant beds(lawn grass, roses or shrubs) after the 9 to 12 months of it breaking down. Switch to a new barrel and repeat the process!

Pros and cons to this idea:

  • I have no real idea how much poo a person will generate daily. Nor how quickly human poo will become a safe fertilizer though 9-24 months seems to be the general answer. Overall most Humanure info seems to say composting at least 12 months is a safe minimum of time to kill all pathogens.
  • While you don’t need to dig for a septic tank or out house you will be handling human waste so there is a bit of danger for disease to you personally.
  • A good thing is you will not contaminate anyone’s ground water. Nor dumping waste down your local storm drain and contaminating  drinking water gathered down stream.
  • This composting idea probably won’t work for most apartment dwellers and if you have a septic tank in a rural area you won’t need this as a sanitation solution. But for homeowners in a city or suburbia tied into a sewer system that stops working in a disaster this concept could offer a workable solution to disposing human waste safely.

I’m sure homesteaders and others that have bought a composting toilet or compost humanure that have much more “real world” knowledge that I have and can troubleshoot my ideas.  Please, troubleshoot me, as all I know is theory and not the practical application of my ideas.  I would ask that you take into consideration that most of us city and suburban preppers are limited by how much land we have to use, zoning laws and how much we can afford to spend. I can’t speak for all, but telling me to move to the country is not helpful! If I could afford to move to the country I would have done it 5 years ago!


More wood mulch, a moss rose blooms and the garden plants are starting to produce.

July 11, 2015

I got another 5 bags of the wood mulch for $2.00 a bag at Home depot. I used 3 of the bags in the alley around the Sunchokes and one surviving moss rose in that area. The area in the alley way has poor soil, does not get much water, plus lots of sun so it is a breeding ground for some nasty weeds.  I have noticed that a thick layer of wood mulch does a great job at blocking most weeds.  The next thing that happens is the weeds grow close to the wood mulch because it retains water so you still have to deal with the weeds around the edges.  I have dug up 1/2 trash barrel full the goatheads/puncture vine and I’m trying full strength vinegar on another section of the puncture vines to see if vinegar will kill off the weed without killing the soil.  The moss rose is a low growing spreader and does well in poor soil along with being drought tolerant.  The moss rose I placed in the first bed of wood mulch has done very well blooming occasionally with just a bit of water.  My hope for the alley way garden to start  is for a drought/ tolerant bed for plants I choose that will replace all those nasty weeds and will become a sort of hot zone garden bed.  By using wood mulch I will add back to the soil and things look better visually and save water along with eliminated the nasty weeds.  Yes, I do a get a bit of a thrill to seeing a new plant especially one I nurtured, takes hold in poor soil and thrives.

We are finally seeing a few small peppers and tomatoes in the garden and the melon plant is forming buds for fruit. The kale in the front yard beds survived the heat wave and while small they look healthy. Our herbs exploded with growth and we have not kept up with the drying of them as it was to hot to harvest. The weather has cooled so we might be able to harvest some of the herbs. The “butter crunch” lettuce and “swiss chard” handled the heat wave much better than my other greens that bolted or just died in the heat.  I got another small kiddy pool for plants but I’m not sure how I want to use it the yard yet. Since the berries are doing great in the front yard I’m thinking about adding the pool up front and make a 2 level strawberry growing area using the pool and one of 18 gallon buckets in the center of the pool. I have a low spot in the front yard and digging out the lawn and setting the pool in that area would not be to difficult, plus I get a new focal point and that area will produce something edible rather than just grass that needs water and mowed.

 


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