I got an estimate for installing the pipe for the wood stove

July 31, 2013

This is more of a guestimate, as the fellow had to work with general measurements I gave him. Might be little more or a little less once he sees where I want to install the stove.  The pipe/chimney will be about $1500. 00 which is about what I figured when I first started planning how to get a wood stove installed. for a total cost around $3,000.00 so at least that part of my planning was about right.

I have been looking at some of the cheaper cast iron stoves but I really want a stove that I can see the fire and not just feel the heat. Well the glass door will up the cost a bit and I’d like a stove with at least a seven hour burn time.  Want or need those two items can often be so far apart.  I  have lived a very frugal life for the past five years and I’d like to splurge a bit and get what I want and not just what I need. I’m just not sure I can get it all done before November that I kind of consider my drop dead date for installation.

I could dip into my “mad money” fund if I need to but I have found I want to keep a little cash on hand all the time just in case the PTBs lose control. I also want to avoid going into debt for the installation, though I’m sure the Credit Union and others would loan me the money at a nice profit for them!  If I can talk the installers into letting me buy most of the parts  in the middle of August, pay the labor  and the rest of the part is September then buy the stove in October and have it installed in October. I can get all of it done without going into debt. Be a little tight on the budget but it looks doable!  Or I can save the money and then have to compete with others on getting the stove installed before winter.

I know I can afford to have it all done by Dec. but I don’t want to have the guys working in those temps if I can avoid it.  I’ll stop by and ask the guys that gave me the estimate what they can live with as far as me buying parts and labor first before installation or if they want a full cash payment. That will give me a better idea on how I need to pay for installation. I want to support these guys as they are a local shop and the money spent stays mostly local.  You never know till you ask.

Since it looks like SW Idaho is reverting back to cold winters and hot summers with the el nino/la nina cycle going away in the Pacific.  Add in the PTBs and what they want to do to make”energy prices necessarily skyrocket” I have to take control of my own energy production as much as possible just to protect myself from those idiots.


Someone snuck up and poured a whole bag of tired on me

July 29, 2013

It has been a busy month and today I just felt wiped out after my walk with Mom, made some lunch and then had a nap attack.  After the nap I felt a bit better if still a little tired so I guess I over did it just a bit working on Mom’s laptop and kindle along with sitting around with Dad BSing and drinking beer.  Somethings that are supposed to be relaxing seem to take a lot of energy.

I’ve been reading TE Lawrence  “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” and it is a book that requires a good hard think while I  am reading it. I usually read very quickly but this book is slowing me down with some interesting ideas and concepts. Plus I have keep forcing myself not to think of Peter O’Toole and the movie “Lawrence of a Arabia”.

I got another row of wood started and added a bit to the taller stacks.  I’m trying to clear a path big enough to use my little garden wagon as well as separate some of the shorter pieces of wood from the long that will need to be cut up.  Only a little over an hour of physically moving the wood but I did make a noticeable dent on one side of the wood pile. Dad says he will stop by and help more with the wood pile once his schedule allows.  Dad has a buddy looking for a gas grill so it looks like I can get rid of my old grill  to make room for the Weber grill I have been working on.  I figure with all the work Dad has done it’s worth my old grill!

I am really liking the small A/C unit while it can’t cool the whole house it does a great job cooling my bedroom and my PC/Work room.  It seems with my CIDP  I’m very sensitive to temp. changes and the on/off cycles of my central air and heat is tough on me.  A steady temp no matter if hot or cold seems to effect my CIDP less rather than having my Central heat/ air try and maintain a certain temperature.  I’ll have to see how the wood stove works out this winter but I’m considering not using the central system most of the the year.

The 100 degree heat and hot nights temps will change this week it will get back to some cooler nights. Last night  I was able to open my windows and cool the house down to 68 degrees. That makes it much more comfy in the house, just using the little a/c unit and some fans the rest of the house stayed about 78 degrees which is fairly comfortable. I even baked a couple of loaves of bread after 9:00 pm and the house still cooled down nicely.

Things are progressing nicely if a bit slower than I would choose, but just “How do you eat an elephant?” One bite at a time!

I finally got all the 55 gallon drums in the basement!

July 28, 2013

It took awhile but I wanted to get by with removing and rehanging the basement door only one time. It was a bit of a pain taking down the door multiple times when I added my big water barrels. The drums are all food safe types but I’m only doing the wheat and rice straight into the barrels. The mixed grains and beans will be in plastic bags and then stored in the barrels.  It looks like the bean barrel will hold about 300 pounds in 25 pound bags.  A guesstimate based on the barrel half full so far.  I’m keeping the beans in bags because I want  a bit of variety in my storage but Scifi Chick at the Blog  “Bacon and Eggs” has a cool bean mix if you want to go that route.

In the mixed grains barrel I repackaged the corn, oats and barley in two gallon freezer bags that weigh on average twelve pounds each.  The wheat and rice  barrel will be loose in the barrel and I will add DE to all to take care of any bugs and assist with freshness.  Once I start filling up the barrels I will get you an update on how many pounds each barrel will hold. As far as moving and using the food in the barrels I will keep my food grade buckets for transferring smaller amounts from the the barrels to the pantry.

I am also considering storing my beer grains in 55 gallon drums and setting up a beer making area. The beer area still needs more planning, but it would be nice to make beer without heating up the kitchen or turning it into a disaster area. I’m also playing around with the idea of an outdoor kitchen that sits on my covered patio.  A “brick” bread oven and some over sized propane burners along with a sink and counter top to work on would be handy.  That might be a goal for next year!  I have budgeted for my wood stove and solar generator to be my goals for this year and those are enough big goals for me and more critical for my energy independence.

I’m still working on the the wood pile and getting it stacked. The shop is getting cleaned up and reorganized so I can actually use it as a work shop and not a storage unit/catch all.  It has been nice to start getting things stored and put in the proper place.  I much prefer organized stuff rather than clutter.  So getting rid of the clutter has been good for me mentally though a lot of hardwork physically.  Still more worked to be done but I’m making progress!

Update on the A/C

July 24, 2013

I got the Frigidaire 5000 BTU model and I can’t find the watt usage anywhere, but I have read a couple of places it should be about (unconfirmed source)  500 watts. With my military discount I got it for $113.65 at Lowe’s including tax. I set it up in the bedroom and it cooled that room down very quickly and by using a couple of fans I can move some of the cool air into my computer room and toward the kitchen. I think I could cool the whole house with a set up of two of these small A/C units at opposite ends of the house and few more fans for circulation.

The A/C unit isn’t much louder than a box fan,  so it did not disturb my nap this afternoon.  It also has a fan option so you can switch it if it cools down and just use the fan function.  It was a little difficult for one person to install especially if the window you are using keeps wanting to close while you are setting it up, but it would very simple for two people one inside and one out side to brace it. It weighs just over 40 pounds so it’s not all that heavy which will make it easy to remove and store for winter.

Overall I would recommend this little A/C unit for anyone that has hot weather to deal with and needs to cool a room or two for sleeping that can be powered via a generator. The ability to cool down could be critical for someone that has medical issues or suffered a heat related injury.  Young children and the elderly can be susceptible to high temps so this little unit seems like a good low end, low power compromise. Plus I don’t trust the utilities or the PTBs deciding what power I get to use or becoming a victim of any” electric load balancing” plans they may hatch up.

UPDATE: According to Frigidaire the 5000BTU A/C unit requires 456 watts. I notice a drag on power when it first starts up the compressor so you will want a little extra range of peak power for your generator. but a 1200-1800 watt small gas generator shoeld work fine.

My little camp stove arrived, stacking wood and A/C

July 23, 2013

I’m pretty impressed by the construction of this little stove. All the door and  pipes fit tight and the doors swing freely with no hanging or hitches when opening or closing. The pipe and the stove itself feel like good quality metal and is a bit thicker than I anticipated.  The little stove was easy to start a fire in. I like the grate that is inside that you can set the wood on and then stuff the paper under the grate to light.  You need to fire it up out side and burn off the cheap paint. It smokes a lot until the paint is burned off and then I could barley detect any smoke coming out of the top of the pipe so it burns wood cleanly.  I’ll sand it down and paint with 1400 degree high heat paint in the next couple of days.  So far I can say the little stove get hot quickly is fairly easy to put together and seems to be of good quality for the $50.00 asking price including shipping and handling. I don’t think a fire would last many hours but it would be good enough to cook on and it would warm up an area, once the fire is going.

Asked Dad if he could give me a hand stacking up the wood and moving it out of the alley way and I could not believe how much he got done. It’s not often I ask for help from him and while I think he is proud of me for being so independent, but sometimes he just doesn’t know what to make of me. I stacked some wood while the little stove burned off it’s paint and I surprised myself on how much I got stacked.  Not as much as Dad but I  made a good size dent in the pile. I don’t think it will take as long to stack it up as I originally thought. Plus I have a good motivator to get it done as I don’t want a nasty gram from the city!

Going from heating back to cooling.  I will be picking up a small room air conditioner from Lowe’s. I have a smart meter installed and right now it is voluntary to let the power company turn off your air conditioning during peak hours. I’m not sure how much longer that will last and in a disaster with no power in summer would be bad!  Since I don’t want the power company to control how much heat I’m allowed in winter it makes sense to take charge of my cooling in the summer. I’m looking at a small 5000 BTU room air conditioner that runs on about 500 watts. Either of my  generators can handle that load easily and I think my solar generator should be able to power it up once the complete  setup done.  I’ll install it in the bedroom and have one room cool enough to sleep comfortably at least, plus it’s a small unit that could help others that are sensitive to heat.  I’d like to use my passive cooling but it’s hard to beat an air conditioner even a small unit for cooling. I wonder how much longer we will be allowed  to buy “Dumb” appliances that the PTBs can’t control?

Just puttering around….

July 22, 2013

A couple of years back I picked up a Weber gas grill at a yard sale for $15.00. It needed a few things replaced as it was an older Genisis model but heck $15 bucks seemed cheap for a nice Weber grill.  Before I did any work my sister said she wanted a grill and I gave her the Weber and said it needed a few parts replaced. Well she said the grill didn’t work and gave it back to me and it’s been sitting in my shop waiting for me to figure out what to do with it.  Just looking at the Weber Genesis grills at today’s prices I figure this grill probably cost about $300.00 new.

Today I tested it out and it works fine, even the push button sparker that lights the gas works! I love my sister and she is an intelligent person but sometimes she is not as smart as she thinks she is about many things!  The bars that go over the gas burner are badly rusted and will need to be replaced but I consider that more a  Operator Head space/ maintenance issue rather than the grill’s fault. The little side table/shelf had a blob of white paint spilled on it. The wood and metal was scraped,  sanded and painted a flat black.  I took a wire brush to the bars and got most of the rust off and I will coat them with some food safe mineral oil to protect whats left of the bars till I can replace them.  A little Dawn dish soap and a razor blade did a great job cleaning the built up grease/goo by the burner controls.

I priced the replacement bars and it looks like they will cost about $35.00. Overall I will spend $50.00 and get a fairly high-end gas grill with a lots of space for cooking plus it looks pretty good now that it is cleaned up.

My wood is being delivered today and I’m very excited to see how much space the wood will take up in my carport next to the shop. Once I get an idea on how much space I need for the wood I may get another load if it looks like a good value.  I’m putting the wood under the carport because it has a good motion detector/ security light  plus It will make delivery of the wood easy.

Well I got my pile of wood and right now it is a pile. Delivery sucked and the wood will need to be cut some to make it fit any of the stoves I have been looking at, but I got wood!  LOL  I guess my workout routine has been decided for the next month or so… At least the pieces of wood are light weight so it should be lean/long muscle tissue I’m building. Hopefully the city won’t get all butt hurt while I move the wood under my carport.

Not what I had planned but I’ll make it work in time. At least I have wood to burn at a fairly cheap price and I learned a valuable lesson.  A lot of what I do is trial and error and finding out what doesn’t work. This one is going to cost me a lot of physical labor but live and learn!

Water emergency!

July 20, 2013

Prince George County just outside of D.C  was going turn off all water in the middle of a summer heat wave with about 12-15 hours notice to all residents to store up water for going without water  “days” as well as conserve water while the water pipe is fixed.  No info about shutting down water heaters so they don’t keep trying to heat water after they run dry. After public outcry the utilities found a valve that would let them divert water and not shut down the entire county water system.

I suppose some people might consider this a victory at averting a “man caused” disaster.  What I see is how a one failure point could have put many lives at risk.  One gallon of water a day is not enough water during a heat wave and after doing my own water test,  I think you should be planning on storing at least 3-5 gallons of water per person per day for 14 days or more and have a renewable source of water you control, filter and treat to make it safe for drinking.  You can always ration your own water down to a gallon a day if the disaster seems to last longer than originally thought.  Shutting off the power or gas to a hot water tank would have given people 30-50 gallons of water if the tanks did not simply heat water till they went dry and cause another hazard!  You may not get any notice when your water system fails!

I think the best size for water storage if your space is limited is the 15 gallon blue barrels. The barrels weigh about 120 pounds full and are 14 inches across and 25 inches tall.  That should fit in your closet easily and if you add a 5 gallon camp jug each person will always have at least 20 gallons at all times.  It might be easier to come up with the money for several smaller container one at a time rather than a big barrel.  Amazon .com has a collapsible rain barrel for about $35.00 that hold 50 gallons of water and can be stored in a small space if you can’t set them up right away. The water from the rain barrels would have to be treated before drinking or cooking but it will work just fine for flushing toilets or watering plants.

You will need to store water for your pets and have water available if you have livestock. Remember none of these plans even touch on watering your yard or garden though you can use the water you rinsed your dishes in if you use dish tubs to move the water. With the 3-5 gallon plan you will be able to flush your toilet occasionally. You need to plan to harvest rain water any time there is rainfall. By using a suspended tarp or even a garbage bag that funnels water in to container you gather quite a bit of water to augment your supply. The more surface area you have the more water you can collect.

The cities that outlaw rain barrels saying we are denying other peoples water rights exactly what do you think we are doing with ran runoff ? Besides putting it in the ground watering gardens, plants, yards or filtering it for cooking and drinking?  We are actually restricting massive water run off during storms and releasing water in a more controlled manner where it is needed. I’m not infringing on anyone’s water rights I’m simply changing the timing of when they get that less than 1 % of water I might be able to divert to my yard or garden.  Public utilities are not controlled by the public but by politicians and energy companies.  While I consider myself a free market capitalist and don’t mind paying for goods and services these utilities are fascistic monopolies with no competition on prices for the average consumer.  If you want to trust politicians, bureaucrats and utility monopolies for something as critical as water, the lack of which can kill you in 1-3 days that is your choice!

Talking trash

July 19, 2013

No this isn’t a rant or me saying less than complimentary things about people,  but dealing with trash when the garbage trucks don’t run for whatever reason. You have probably seen pictures of trash piling up in cities and suburbs from strikes or disasters and just because you always put your trash out on the curb does not mean it will be magically whisked away if the trucks don’t/cant  run for whatever reason. Clean water and a working sewer system is what makes cities possible without those two items many people will get very sick at best and die at worse and it can happen in as little as three days or three weeks depending if it is a local disaster or a large scale event.  You will probably have to deal with other people’s trash as well as your own because vermin and disease do not respect property rights or make people sick based on who is the dumbest and dirtiest!

The first thing you can do is simply reduce, reuse and recycle!  I’m no environmentalist but a benefit for me becoming a prepper and buying bulk I generate a lot less trash than I did five years ago when I started. Packaging from prepared foods is a big contributor to trash, if you buy in bulk and make stuff from scratch yow will be amazed the difference in the amount of trash you generate.  I began to look at what used to be considered trash and started seeing how I could use those items for all kinds of neat survival stuff.  Cans became potential rocket stoves, dryer lint and cardboard rolls became fire starters, leftover cardboard boxes became weed blockers for raised beds and news paper could be used in place of  paper towels soaking up grease or used to clean windows and that is only a few examples of reusing stuff.

If you have enough water on hand you can wash your pots and dishes, but moving and heating water takes a lot of energy and fuel and may not be a good option if you have a limited water/fuel supply. I think I have a solution of using food as a plate or bowl.  Most of us have had a salad that is served in a fried tortilla shell, tacos, sandwiches or soup served in a bread bowl.  You can make meat or fruit pies that are single serving and you eat more like a sandwich with your hand rather than on a plate with a knife and fork.  You can go to a dollar store or your local mega mart and buy many tinfoil baking pans that could be reused if washed or trashed/recycled depending on what resources are available to you.

Using a compost pile to reduce your trash. You can buy compostable paper plates and cups while they are a little more expensive they could keep the amount of trash you need to deal with much more manageable. If you have a small yard you can set up or make a compost bin or two for under $100.00 and you can save money by adding your own compost to your garden rather than buying it at the megamart. Start your compost pile today if you don’t have one yet as there is a learning curve or at least there was one for me. Plus you can toss all your grass clippings, leaves, vegetable waste and if you are careful even the paper you shred to protect yourself from  identity theft. No protein or plastics should ever go in the compost pile.

If it is a long term disaster dealing with trash will be to bury or burned and I will probably burn as I don’t have enough space on my property to make a small landfill.  A couple of burn barrels should do the job for whatever remaining trash you still  have on hand in the event of TEOTWAKI. You would use this method only if your city or county are incapable of trash collection in the long term as they would not be able to enforce all of the normal regulations restricting trash burning.

The ideas for dealing with trash are less than optimal and simply how to make the best of a bad situation and try and keep filth and disease from either taking hold or spreading.  We have seen in many disasters people  don’t think or just can’t change habits or their way of thinking very quickly.  It’s the store’s fault because they ran out of water or food, the gas stations fault they don’t pump gas or take electronic payments when the power is out, it’s the banks fault when the ATM runs out of money…. Don’t plan on or depend on others to prepare. You must prepare yourself because no matter what anyone says no one can care more about you more than you!

Totally scored at the thrift store and pawn shop and paying bills

July 18, 2013

I was a little disappointed that Big Lot’s had sold out of the decorative solar lights I wanted to get for my patio. Though it worked out for the best, because what I was going to pay for the lights, instead I got a duel fuel Coleman 2 burner stove  at my favorite pawn shop.  These stoves run on white gas or unleaded gasoline so one more fuel option is added to my cooking fuels!

Big Lot’s did have the big box of construction grade garbage bags and I splurged on a big fuzzy bed pillow for myself.  One more of the light canvas tarps  and a couple of thick micro-fiber floor mats for the kitchen to help when I have stand for a long time doing canning or making beer.

Mom and I stopped by the Idaho youth ranch/thrift store because we are looking for crock pots. Mom found one but I’m still looking but I did find a bubble spa mat for the bath tub. While I would love to install a hot tub it is a little outside of my budget as well as being kind of a power hog for keeping the water warm.  This little mat should be a nice little spa and it works!  I will be able to give it a good test as I have been a little extra sore from work I did on the new compost pile.

I’m a couple of weeks ahead of the due date on most bills. Power usage has been a little higher than average with the 100 degree heat. It seems we have reverted back to a more normal summer and winter temps this year so I haven’t paid ahead on the power bill.  I put in my order for the wood so once the wood stove is installed that should reduce the heating bill this winter.

the Amazon order has a few more motion detector solar lights, a small wood camp stove and a new little butane/propane stove I will be testing out. Other than the wood stove for the house,  I’m as ready as I can be for heating and cooking as well as having at least a couple of small stoves I can hand out to family or neighbor to help out in a disaster.

Still need to finish up the grocery shopping but Albertson’s is having a great sale on wild caught salmon at $1.99 per pound, whole lobster 12-14 oz. $6.99 and canned veggies 20 cans for $10.00. Paul’s has breakfast sausage for $1.69 per pound and finish up at Fred Meyer’s  12 double roll toilet paper 2 for $8.00. Add in a few odds and ends and that brings the cost in around $50.00.  Not every week you can get salmon and lobster and spend less than fifty bucks on your grocery shopping.

UPDATE: Albertsons ran out of the Lobster but I got 4.5 pounds of salmon and another 4+ pounds of pork chops.

I tested out the Homedics bubble spa and I love it.  The bubbles were very powerful and it really felt like sitting in a jacuzzi.

Bags are done and working on the yard

July 17, 2013

I did a little work to make my compost pile a little easier to use and maintain.  Many of the things I setup to be self reliant I did with the mindset of thinking of my physical energy to work would return before I became disabled.  I am now trying to work smarter instead of harder.  While my disability makes a bit more noticeable,   I think many people still think they should be able to do the physical work like they did as a 20-30 years old at least the boomers and my generation. Guess what we can’t! We need to work smarter not harder and our age and experience should make it fairly easy,  but it is not easy to admit you are slowing down.  Add a little pride and a self-reliant mindset and it can be hard to ask for help or simply pay cash for the work and save your physical energy for the important stuff!

Anyway back to the new compost pile I’m making, I saw how my neighbors made a raise bed and made a new compost pile in the raised bed in the summer or fall and then they planted a garden in a the raised bed the next year.  They added a bit of topsoil and did the work to make it nutrient rich. But it is amazing to see how well their gardens grow!  I always thought that compost piles or heaps needed to built to some standard before you even think about dropping some coffee grounds in the pile and not your garbage can.

Now this won’t be a raised bed/compost pile,  but I think I picked a better spot next to my shop and I will be moving my garbage cans  to a small concrete slab to make it very easy to sort my garbage and drop it off everyday if needed. I have divided  the compost area by thirds and simply marked of the areas with some broken up concrete that were part of a walkway.  Having the three areas of working compost is new to me and since I will walk by it everyday I hope it will remind me to use the compost heap as well as water and turn it over so it can work it’s magic.  Since the compost will generate a bit of heat while it decays it should warm the metal wall of  my shop as a bonus.

I have no idea if this will work, but I can say without a doubt my other composting setup/ideas have not worked.  I often find I need to screw up a few times and find out what doesn’t work for me.  You can use other people do as guidelines and get the basic ideas/concepts down. You still need to figure out what works for you and that is when your doing and practicing comes into play and why all us preppers talk about the big difference between theory and practice.

It doesn’t matter if you can talk a good game! Can you play a good game?