More plumbing, gardening and I think my Mom is a yard sale godess!

July 30, 2014

Well I think I fixed both toilets with one kit that cost $15.00 at the local True value store.  One toilet had a floppy flapper and saying it just brings a smile to my face. Very easy fix the other one is taken a bit more effort as it the fluid valve or basically the tower that fills the toilet tank needed replacing.  I did not replace the water feed pipe like I did for the first toilet repair and getting everything correct is taking a bit of time and adjustments.  I’m not fond of rigid pipes for toilets, sinks or other plumbing items that need to be replaced.  I will say the psychopath that owned the home before me at least put in some shut off valves, though I can’t say I approve of his choices sometimes.  I’m sure it seemed logical at the time but some of the stuff I find make me question his sanity or economic sense of stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime.

I’m still very new at the mulching and composting thing but even in the short time I have been getting into it I have seen some major results.  I pulled the broccoli as the bees seemed to have done what they can for their harvest.  I put in a thick layer of mulch on both of the smaller beds and I have some good soil to try a second harvest as well as a place for the peppers if I can find them and  get them transplanted.  I trimmed a bit of the squash back to give the melons a chance and now the melons are spreading out looking for sunlight.  My raised garden beds  are to dense as I did not expect this kind of growth.  I know many people would like to have that sort of problem, but it is a problem for another month or so. There might be sort of an upside because all of my squash are volunteers and I have a tomato plant that is a volunteer in one of my small beds. Now rather than saving seeds exclusively,  I’m thinking of tilling not only plants but some of the harvest back into the soil. It worked great for my summer squash plants so I think it might work for other plants.   It might be an experiment to think about and even if it fails you have not lost a thing.

My Mom is great at yard sales,  she picked up a water mister setup, brand new in the box for $5.00. I have to test it out but if it works it will be a great cooling agent in summer.  I have a couple of stand water mister and they are a great cooling set up for summer. She also bought a small LCD tv/monitor without a power cord. I think I can get a cord via Amazon for about $15.00 and this TV was very high end when it came out. Original cost was about a grand and made in the USA. Yeah, it is a small screen at 17 inches thought it looks like speaker set up is impressive for a small LCD and the whole system draws only 20 watts of power. If the little TV works It will be a great buy and while I was looking for a power cord for the TV I found an AC power system for my handheld CB to go with the DC power I use in the mini-van. Never discount serendipity, I have found many things fix a problem I did not consider a first look.  Some times problems often solve themselves when you start your preps. As long as you keep an open mind.

As many of my NCO’s said ” It’s not a problem, but an opportunity to excel!”


Much happier post about the garden and shopping for Mom

July 29, 2014

Starting to get some tomatoes, patty pan squash and lemon cukes on the vines and they are just about ready to harvest. I have some purple cabbage, celery and more romaine to harvest. My purple cabbage did much better than the green cabbage, I guess the color confuses the local bugs. I can pull the broccoli as the bees seem to have done all they could with the flowers and I’ll move my pepper plants to that bed as the tomatoes have kind of choked those pepper plants out with more growth than I anticipated.

I tried the solar oven with a 16 bean recipe but it was a bust as we have a storm rolling in and it got shady. I’ll just put the pot in the fridge and finish them up on Wednesday in the solar over or on the stove.  Hopefully we get a rain shower so I won’t have to water on Wednesday. So far the valley is doing good on water but just west of us in Oregon, water is in short supply.  Conserving water is one of my “things” since I have gone without tap water for several days, I don’t take water for granted.

I did some shopping for Mom at Albertson’s since it is close to my house and she can save a little gas. She does the same for me if there is a sale on her side of town where she shops. Any way this shopping list would be scourge of congress critters playing poor as she spent about $26.00 and got a 10 pound bag of chicken quarters, 2 whole chickens, 6 cans of veggies, 6 packs of ramen and 4 soup cups of ramen, 4 cans of soup and 2 bags of corn muffin mix. I’m a big believer in cooking from scratch but I don’t see anything wrong with having some quick and easy stuff to cook if you get a good price.  If you have a garden and some rice , pasta and grains you could easily make a couple of weeks of dinner and lunches with all this stuff.  Sad to say the Progresso recipe starters for 50 cents a can sold out. I checked out the normal price of the recipe starter and it is over $2.50 a can so I assume these cans on sale are just getting close to the best used by date of Oct. 2014 is why they went on sale.  I have used these recipe starters  if you get them on sale they will make a great addition to your panty.

I told Mom about my little dream and she remarked just how bad it shook me and I had to agree.  I have had some very bad scares in my life about being paralyzed when I crushed 3 vertebrae in my back or this CIDP would make me an invalid unable to care for myself but that dream terrified me in some ways I can’t even express verbally or in writing. I don’t think it was all that bad because the dream forced me to deal with some issues I had been avoiding about how bad things are starting to get in the USA.  Let me just say I have a less than a lively respect for what passes as the “Rule of Law” as is defined here in America. Protect yourself and your family first and at all times and don’t place yourself in situations where the law forbids you to do that.  I might get blindsided but I will never put myself in a place where I have no options to defend myself.

Cue Dream Sequence “You have been Detained”

July 28, 2014

This has to be one of the most terrifying nightmares I have ever had. I was filled with such of feeling of powerlessness and lack of control that I woke in a cold sweat. The PTBs of the dream were not all that menacing all they wanted was names, for me to help them stamp out other “terrorists” and how I was so dependent on the Government for my checks and how they could simply make any bad things go away if I just cooperated like a good citizen.  I’d love to say that I was filled with indignation, claimed my rights and spit in their eye but I simply was so filled with fear I simply shut down and could not speak at all.  I never felt more alone and then I woke up!

It is very easy to say how you will stand against the PTBs but doing it is a bit different in real life.  I’m not saying you should go “grey man” or stop shouting from the mountain tops but there will be a price to be paid for either action.  I made my choice back in 2011 that I would continue this blog and try and help people to prepare and quite honestly it scared the crap out of me and it still does when I take the time to dwell on not only the risk to myself but to others in my family that don’t even prep.  I find that doing nothing is just not something I can do and I hope that I will not been seen as a threat to the PTBs  as this is a small blog and I can help others in a small way.  I know many of my commentators have been prepping for decades, I read many bloggers and they have made peace with their decisions to keep blogging, though that might be a bit of “normalcy bias” as we haven’t been detained yet so we won’t be detained in the future.

I would like you to take a good hard look at the risks you are willing to run being an open prepper/survivalist.  I got no problem if you go “gray man” as you might be the best hope for survival. There are a lot of people that are taking a real risk by blogging and being open preppers trying to help others as I see it. While I can only speak for myself, speaking out and blogging is something I must do to consider myself doing something to fight the system that tries to label us as crazy at best and possible terrorists at worst.

You want to strike a blow for Liberty it easy, just stop playing the game. Grow a garden and preserve what you grow.  Ride your bike when you can and don’t pay the idiotic gas taxes the US and state governments add. Have cash on hand and PMs like silver for insurance  in case of a grid down situation, get rid of your credit card and as much debt as you can as that makes you a slave to the lender.  Cut costs by learning to cook, bake and preserve, get rid of your TV cable, satellite dish and expensive cell phone plans. I like keeping the internet as that is a bit harder for the PTBs to control and I get a great deal using Magic jack for my home phone and Roku for my TV shows. Learn to make your own beer and wine and eliminate the taxes you pay for those items in the store.  Always look for ways to starve the beast of government and become more independent.

I know it is tough to give up those conveniences. I’m using Roku, Magic Jack, use wood in the winter to heat my home and tolerate a warm house in the summer using only small air conditioner rather a heat pump or electric furnace. I have paid off a lot of debt and it is no fun,  as it is hard to see fast results when you “screwed the pooch”  like I did before I got disabled. Pay cash whenever possible and watch yourself when you make the argument that you can make the  monthly payment rather than look at total costs of adding interest and insurance.

I know it is tough to do these things. I started because I got smacked down to rock bottom and was forced to change my outlook. Many people have not yet felt that sort of pain and I understand they might think I’m a screwball but I wish they would understand I don’t want them to go through the days I went through when my dog was sick racking up a $600.00 month vet bill and have the choice of buying food or paying utility bills and putting my dog down. Having food on hand and paying a little ahead on bills as well as reducing debt gave me another 7 years of joy with Tuffy.

Yard, garden and Congress critter playing poor

July 26, 2014

The other half of the front yard finally got de-thatched and some organic lawn food added.  I’m giving it a good watering today as I had a few places the grass was starting to brown a little bit. I have not mulched the front yard area as much or as long as I have been working on the backyard and it needs more water until I can get more of the wood mulch next month.  I’m watering a little more often as I have laid down new grass seed in the back yard.  Both of the lawn areas need more mulch and some grass seed as a remedial efforts continue, but I have had several of the neighbors notice a difference and it’s not all wishful thinking on my part.  One neighbor’s garden sort of died while on vacation during our little heat wave so I showed her my garden and she said she would take any extra produce from the squash, tomatoes, herbs and the grapes I can’t get use/preserve.

Smokey the cat discovered the straw in the front beds and seem to enjoy laying in it while I puttered around in the front yard.  Smokey acts more like a farm cat rather than a city cat as she loves to hunt and if I have straw bales around she prefers laying on top of those straw bales rather than enjoy a kitty condo.  She also sort of patrols around the house  and alley way to keep out any feral cats though she leaves the cats a couple of houses away alone, as long as they stay away from “her domain”.  We still don’t have the industrial strength dog yet but I’m still looking and will add a new cash envelope to save up for a dog and pet costs.

I did a little bit of shopping and found some more of the Progresso recipe starters for 50 cents a can.  I have used these for a couple of meals and they work great for a good sauce without using a lot of energy or heat to slow cook.  These also work great for leftovers to make a very nice meal to use with beans, rice or pasta to extend your servings or use for camping instead of hauling fresh milk, cream, butter or cheese for a one skillet meal.  The Progresso website has some great recipes for using squash as well as meat leftovers for a hearty meal. Some of our Congress critters have been doing a test of what it is like to survive on min. wage and supposedly via 40 hour work week of $7.25 per hour. They will have to live on $77.00 per week after housing costs and such.  That is $1160.00 per month and you don’t have payroll taxes at this income level though you do “contribute” to SS and medicare. So your net income is about $1025.00 per month and I can tell you anyone making that is probably eligible for all kinds of assistance from EBT, Medicaid as well as housing and energy assistance. For a single person EBT is $189.00 per month or about $47.00 per week even in a cheap state like Idaho and while you may not eat high on the hog considering the rising cost of food you can eat a healthy diet.

Plus what is up with buying canned sardines and saltine crackers these morons think is “Poor People food” ?  Heck I can get whole chickens for about a dollar per pound then roast, pan fry or rotisserie  and eat for nearly a week by using the leftovers.  Just to be conservative and not buying in bulk you can buy 2 pounds of rice, beans and pasta for about $6.00 at any dollar store and that converts to about 20 servings of food. You buy a whole chicken or two let’s say you get for 99 cents per pound and costs you a total of $10.00.  Lets add a little more protein with eggs for breakfast and a snack and 18 pack will cost about $2.00 lets add some oatmeal or grits  heck you can buy $5.00 dollars worth and you will get about 6-8 serving per pound so breakfast is covered.  Wow we are already over $20.00 per week and we have not bought crackers or sardines.  You will need some bread probably a one pound loaf per week on average for one person. So you buy a 5 pound bag of flour for about $2.50 add some yeast, a one pound package is about $2.00 -$3.00 and lets get crazy and add 1 pound of Kosher salt so you you can make 5 minute artisan bread cost about 50 cents per one pound loaf counting electricity costs.  Wow we are up to $30.00 and now you can veggies, fruits and some basic cleaning supplies. I try to eat fresh fruit and veggies from my garden so I’m not up on the cost of veggies and fruit but I would think you could buy enough fresh, frozen and canned each week for around $10.00 per week. A container of Tang and coffee or tea would last about a month and cost $5.00-$10.00 total or about $2.50 per week for drinks. Let’s add in a few multi-taskers like a gallon of vinegar $2.50 per gallon, Dawn Dish soap $3.75 for a 40-48 oz. bottle, a pound of baking soda a dollar. Add a 4 pack of TP and a 3 pack of paper towels at a dollar each and you can get by even starting from scratch.  For under $50.00 you  will have enough to survive and even thrive every darn week if this what you buy for groceries. While there are few items missing if you use this as a general type shopping list you would have extras leftover for the pantry and as you built the pantry you could shift your buying to first aid, sanitation/personal hygiene even buying stuff for the garden in a couple of months. That’s without buying in bulk and paying the most on a per pound cost.

I make about $17,000.00 a year net, your average congress critter makes about $15,500.00 per month gross. That is not counting the perks or per diem a congress critter gets along with all the other benefits of paid transportation and vacations or the benefits/retirement they have voted for themselves. Needless to say I’m less than impressed about them taking the EBT or min. wage challenge.  You want a challenge Congress critter? How about you live on my income and I will live on your income for a month and then we would see how things work out!


Working in the yard during the cool weather

July 24, 2014

Did some clean up on one of the raised beds. My green cabbage got attacked by bugs and I was not pro-active with stopping them. My fault on the cabbages. My purple cabbage is doing great and I am not having a bug problem with those at all. I pulled the brussel sprouts as I did not get anything at all but a fairly tall plant with no sprouts whatsoever.  I have one basil plant that is doing great and a volunteer tomato that grew under some of plants. I staked the tomato and then covered the lower part of the plant with some straw. What is cool is this plant has the first tomatoes I have found in my garden and I think it’s either an Early girl or perhaps a beef steak type of tomato.  I added a little more of the bag soiled I got from Home Depot just to top off the bed a little more and add a bit more nutrients for the tomato. I’m going to plant some of the colorful lettuce and see how it does as a second planting.

The volunteer squash are finally putting on some veggies and it looks like the white patty pans are the ones that did the best as volunteers.  Having so much growth is sort of a new thing for me and my garden.  While I’m ecstatic about the growth I need to thin it out a bit, picking the healthiest to keep growing for food and seed for next year. I was not prepared to have a healthy garden as most of my garden in the past have been sort of sad, sickly things.  I added some more wood mulch to try and augment the soil as well as kill out some morning glory in a couple of areas. Dug up the goat heads in the alley and there is a new plant in the alley  that is spreading but I have no idea what it is except it is green, low growing and has no stickers of any sort. The “cheat grass” is pretty much under control and even the goat heads are not spreading very fast. So I think this fall I will be able to get to work on the alley way for some good plants I want to have on hand as well as improve the soil and look of the area.  For next year I will have 3 distinct type garden areas based on soil/sun/water conditions I can take advantage of and plan how to maximize the use for growing.

The compost pile is starting to break down and I’m getting some very nice stuff to add to the yard and my soil amendment/ grass growing experiment.  The areas that I put the most compost down are doing much better compared to the where I just barely covered the ground.  All of it has helped for water retention but so far I need about a 4 inch depth to start seeing improvements to the soil where the water main was dug out.  I spread a bit of organic lawn food and sun/shade  grass seed in my backyard in hopes it will start to fill in the back yard grass area I want to have for the place. It’s still early days for this experiment but I think that I can feel and see a difference as far as soil and grass health.  I laid down a bit of straw on the north side of the house that is very shaded most of the time and has a large area of dead soil even weeds don’t grow there very well. I ‘m going to give the straw a chance to break down before I add any grass seed of any sort.

I doubt that I can grow enough to feed me on my city lot but I have had a vast improvement in my garden and my lawn just by mulching and using the compost as well as expanding my garden beds to the front yard. I maybe wrong as I see how my small raised beds are much more productive because I am working the soil first and letting the plants do their magic.I have been caught by surprised by how well adding in good compost and mulching has made in a healthy yard and garden.  I am certain I can augment my basic food supplies, eat a somewhat healthy diet and save water by using rain barrels and a modified drip irrigation system. Saving money is always a good thing in my book as cash is already in your hand and if you don’t have to spend it, that is a good thing!

I’m a big believer in in not looking to be perfect when you are learning something new! Experiment and be willing to fail as I have found learning what not to do is just as important as figuring out what to do next.

Darn weather and still looking for a dog

July 22, 2014

Don’t get me wrong I love how it has cooled off but the changing pressure and T-storms rolling through has set up an ache in every part of the body I managed to break, sprain or ripped cartilage/bursa and major soft tissue damage I have done.  That’s not even counting my CIDP or the wonders of menopause that I seem to have the joy to experience now.  Yes! I am whining about how much I hurt!  I do seem to be getting back on top of  dealing with the pain, though this storm affected more than I had anticipated.  I have been a bit lazy and not doing enough work to keep the muscles and joints working at optimal levels.  I need to up my puttering in the yard level and cut back a bit on my TV/news watching level.

While the dog I was looking at in the shelter was “no joy” as he sort of treated Diana as an animated chew toy there are a couple of other dogs that have some potential and might go on sale this month.  I think the rotties I saw advertised might be a scam and so I’m playing that out. I can’t imagine that it is so hard to get rid of free Rottweiler pups in Michigan compared to Idaho.  Perhaps I’m doing these folks a disservice but I can’t imagine advertising free dogs in Idaho that must be shipped from Michigan is how most average dog owners want to get rid of free pups . It just feels wrong overall and as it is said when a deal looks to good to be true, it probably is…I  trust I will find the right dog if I’m patient something will show up that will be a good fit.  Now that I have watched Diana get such joy about meeting new dogs it is apparent that she really misses Tuffy and needs a doggy companion. While she is getting on at 11 years old and has a few health/genetic issues due to her breed she is pretty healthy overall.

Onto the first straw mulch experiment result. My Nasturtium flowers are already much happier along with the romaine type lettuces. Now that might be do to the slightly cooler temps but I think the straw mulch has shown results this fast and I did not expect it to do the work that quickly.  Now we have gotten a bit of rain but usually the front yard soil sucks it up like a sponge and that is not happening this time even just adding mulch to a somewhat small area. I’m sure that the folks that compost and mulch are thinking “Well Duh!” but this concept is new to me. Especially how laying mulch in one area will tend to improve water retention in adjoining areas of the yard.  I’m still learning and I don’t think I have laid out the mulch properly to kill weeds though it is a big help for water retention.  This is one area I can see that more is better and I will be laying out mulch and even compost in the garden beds starting at 4 inches thick and 6-8 inches would be better overall. On the grass growing area over the water main I think a good 4 inches of compost/mulch is a good start and at least a 2 inch depth of compost to regrow grass in a weedy yard is a good start.  This not the fastest way to build soil though I’m fairly surprised how well it helps with water retention if not actual growth.  Go thick with mulch as I have found that a thin layer helps with water retention but you need to go thick to kill weeds.  My garden is kind of going berserk with growth and I haven’t changed much besides adding a bit of rabbit poo and the mulch. I really need to thin out plants and that is not a problem I had in the past.

It can be difficult to check an attitude of superiority and listen to others that do the work.  I’m sure you have read or met many preppers that get all superior and talk a good game but do the work or show how things do not work to theory not so much!  I blog what I do and often I’m a slacker and I still can’t find the broccoli seeds I want to gatherer and did not think about before having an admired garden.  I’m still learning though I think I have turned the corner of hoping and planing.  I was not ready for a good garden harvest.  I’m not going to beat myself up about wasted food as I’m getting better with gardening but it does hurt a bit to see food go to waste.



I think I found the dog I want at the pound Updated

July 20, 2014

The Dog is a Char-Pei/Lab mix and is about 3 years old and seems very mellow and laid back. Walked him by the cat cages and all he did was give them a quick glance and walked right along and I had one of the people working there walk him through the small dog area and she said he did great around the small dogs.  One small problem is he started  dry coughing when I took him out for a little walk.  I know some dogs can cough like that when they get excited, but the pound will have him checked by the vet on Monday for Kennel Cough. This guy is a medium size dog and I didn’t have a problem controlling him though he does need a little training.  I hope that Diana the peke and his personalities will match up and I have been introducing Diana to larger dogs so she can get used to them. The pound calls him Scooter but I don’t think that name fits him very well but with a little luck maybe I can bring him home and give him a new name!

Dug up a few of the goathead/puncture vines in the alley way. I think I got these early enough that the “seed?” stayed attached and won’t spread. It does not look all that pretty but I have started making a difference on some of the worst of the weeds. I have been reading up on plants that could survive and thrive in that bad soil and I think a combo of lavender and sunchokes might be the way to go to make use of this area.  While I’m still learning about mulch I think a few bags of wood mulch could work best for this area for weed control, improving the soil as well as making the area look nice.  The water main area is looking better but I need to add a deeper layer of compost to most of it. I have one area that got a deeper layer of compost and it is very noticeable about how well it is breaking down and becoming soil. The places that I only put down a thin layer are not breaking down as well, even a thin layer helps with water retention.

Getting veggies out of this years garden seems like sort of a bonus rather than the main purpose of learning about/improving the soil and taking advantage of the natural features of the yard.  There is more to do especially taking advantage of mulch and planing out the garden so it produces and making it easier for me to work. It is going to be a very busy fall this year getting things all ready for the Spring planting season next year.  While the Water main going out threw a major monkey wrench at my goals for this year it has also offered many opportunities for learning and trying new things out here at Casa de Chaos.   I’m still making most of my goals though not exactly the way I had planned them out last year.  Because of those adjustments I will have a couple of complete misses but I will also have learned other things that will meet goals I had not even thought about doing.  Being mentally flexible and making the most out of any given situation will be a critical skill in any disaster.  In almost any situation there is something you can do to be pro-active.  Being mentally rigid in your goals can put you at risk, but if you are mentally flexible you can change focus and take advantage of changing circumstances.

For example: Everything you need to live daily is going up in price. Food, fuel even water but many hard goods have come down in price from tents to a kindle. You can still buy corn, wheat, rice, beans and meats for a good price if you shop loss leaders or in bulk.  Heck, Fred Meyers has a fairly good quality Toilet paper on sale 12 pack for under $4.00 a package with a coupon limit of 4 packages.  I’m not sure how you think about TP but this is a bargain and if you no longer shop week to week you should have a bit of cash to take advantage of that buy.  If you have enough TP already on hand think of the extra TP as a barter item.

Saving money is the fastest way you can put money in your wallet.  Now you will have to look at yourself and your family about the “whiny factor”.  I think getting rid of my dish sat. subscription and getting the Rokus was a great thing. I watch the shows I want to watch when I want to watch them. I did get Amazon Prime that will cost $120.00 a year in 2015 but I get quite few benefits besides just some movies and TV shows via Prime. I have watched a great documentary about WWI via you tube this weekend and the quality is great.  While I paid $99.99 signing up for Amazon Prime for the year I killed Dish and save over $30.00 per month on that subscription.  Overall savings is about $20.00 per month on TV and I can say that $20.00 per month can go a long ways buying bulk goods.  That is only one item that many people seem to think they must have to live. You don’t need TV to live though it is a “nice to have item”.  By the end of this year I will have saved enough money to pay back both of my Rokus and my Amazon prime.  Next year the only cost will be the Amazon Prime subscription which equals about $10.00 per month.

Some items are worth having on hand regardless of the payback. A gas generator for example will be extremely valuable in a short term grid down situation but you will spend a lot of money for gas and basic upkeep.  Now my wood stove may actually payoff in two years because I bartered for wood this year rather than paying cash for delivered wood.  My little A/C unit cost will be paid off this year simply by the savings on my electric bill compared to using the whole house A/C unit.  I use a 3-5 year payback as a general rule of thumb if something is worth buying for a long term replacement.  It is best to look/figure a total yearly cost before you decide on a replacement. A new fuel efficient car may look like a great savings until you count the extra interest on payments and the additional cost of insurance and the depreciation of a new car after you drive it off the lot. That old vehicle might be a better value compared to new car based on savings and payback.  Always crunch the numbers and don’t ever be fooled into “stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime”.  Also listen to the ads and how they play you. You might earn something but I don’t remember you deserving something just by being alive.  Do I deserve a vacation? Some people may think my life is a vacation since I’m100% disabled and don’t work for a living. I don’t see it that way but I will only go on a vacation if I can pay my way, but you can see how that term “Deserve” can play on your emotions.  Don’t let that “entitlement mentality” infect you no matter what your station in life you might be in at the present.  That is how the PTBs hook you in to their dependency slavery. You won’t dare rise up as you are afraid of what you might lose. It does not matter if it is a company, state or person. If you accept the money you are on the hook unless you get self-reliant.

Update: Nope the dog will not work so we will keep looking

That went well.

July 18, 2014

Got all of the fans set up and with the nights getting cooler the fans are  helping to cool off the house.  I did some laundry to test the new dryer vent hose and how well the washer drains. The dryer vent worked great, made a huge difference in the heat in the house coming  from the dryer. The washing machine drain is better but it looks like it needs another treatment to clear up the pipe.    I may give the “Drain King” another try to see if the pressurized water can finish clearing the pipe. I really don’t want to fight with the drain snake if I can clear the pipe using the drain cleaner.

Did a little clean up on the front beds and got the watering done.  I need to lay out more mulch as I have been astounded  how much it helps the yard retain water. Got some good growth on the grass under the compost I laid out. Bought some new grass seed to add to the water main area and reseed the rest of the backyard this weekend. The brussel sprouts just are not doing much of anything as far as edible veggies.  While I started the front beds as a test this year I planted my cool weather crops in the full sun beds and that has not worked out well with the hot temps we got this July.  I may lose a bucket of the potatoes because the drainage got blocked and the bucket sort of flooded. I’m going to give the tater bucket a chance to see if it can recover and my other two big potato buckets are doing good and have drained all excess water.  One strawberry bucket is doing great and I should be able to harvest at least a couple of strawberries this year.  My other strawberry bucket and the raspberries look like a NOGO but I’m sure it was my soil mix and possibly a drainage/placement issue for those buckets. Those are things I should be able to fix with a some time and working the soil.

This year I have learned so much about gardening, fixing the soil and value of mulch as well as compost.  I sort of poo-pooed the idea of mulch for my beds like it was sort of a easy way to garden which was stupid because I needed all the help I could get to grow a garden. Now that I can see how mulch helps with water retention for a garden in high desert I can see it is a critical component for a gardener try to grow anything.  If you are in a drought area get some mulch on your beds ASAP even if you can’t do the whole yard.  I think you might be surprised by how much it helps keep water in the  soil. Remember your science classes about osmosis where water tries to create an equilibrium. I have seen it happen in my yard that even the areas that are not mulched absorb and retain water from the areas that are mulched.  With a bit more mulch added to my beds and to the soil I will be able to go to water once a week easily even with the heat and as I keep adding mulch and compost  I think I could get by with watering twice a month.  Most of us in the USA take safe water for granted,  and having my water main go out and simply dealing with all of the physical energy required to move water and heat it is huge compared to just turn a valve.  Water is life and if you do not have stored potable water on hand and a way to collect more you will die in a matter of days. Conserving water is just smart from a survival or money saving perspective.

Diana the peke had a blast running through the sprinkler. Speaking of dogs the pound has a couple of dogs on sale that might be a good fit for me.  I’ll stop by and give them a look this weekend and see how they might do here at Casa de Chaos. Don’t forget to prep for your animals and feed them best food that you can afford. That does not mean you buy the most expensive feed but that you do you research for the best feed.  You must prep for your critters with basic medicines, vaccines and keep them vermin free of fleas, ticks and other little nasties.  Let us say for instance you must stay indoors for 3-5 days because of a disaster. What have you done for your animals to go poo, or how will you keep them entertained or physically active in a confined space? You know your pet better than I do but I think it is something you should think about and prepare for your critters. If you have to bug out do you have a crate/kennel that the pets are safe and used to being in? You got those pets because they help you and I think it is unacceptable to simply cast them out if they become inconvenient. If you can’t/won’t take care of animals when times get tough. Don’t get animals of any sort!

Starting to cool off, equipment, the economy and double checking your preps

July 16, 2014

It is starting to cool down to the lower 90s during the day but what will make the big difference is it will cool to the lower 60s at night.  That makes it much easier to cool off the house at night by opening windows and using fans to circulate the air. If I can get the house below 70 overnight I will use the A/C less and save on energy costs. I’m going to buy a box fan at Big lots for $16.50 and True value has an Oscillating tower fan for $18.00 that should work with the wood stove moving heated air in the winter.  Fans can be a year round tool that helps to keep you comfortable and most electric fans don’t take a lot of energy to run. Now I can return the small fan my Mom loaned me for use with the wood stove.

I got the stuff to replace the guts of the other toilet is has been running over and would not stop. Not a big deal as the shut off valve works on this toilet and the replacement is fairly simple and the guts only cost about $15.00.  I get to keep my old fashioned toilet that needs only one flush rather than the new “Water saving” toilets mandated by the government.  I pulled out the dryer to clean some lint build up I saw and noticed the vent hose was not attached. New longer vent hose has been attached that should cut down on heat as well as lint build up and reduce any fire hazards. My washer and kitchen sinks have slow drains so I added some hard core drain cleaner to get them back into shape. I hope I won’t have to run the 50 ft. snake but I got one on hand.  It’s amazing how much I have learned about plumbing and have  tools on hand to do a few basic repairs and replacements. Most of the tools and replacement parts have been a lot cheaper than I imagined when I started my projects.  It wasn’t on my 2014 to do list but fixing up the plumbing is turning out to be a major thing for the house this year. Replacement of the pressure hoses on the washer has been added to the list. Having one of those hoses blow can create a heck of a mess and I know the hoses on the washer now are at least 10 years old.  Most of these “jobs” have cost under $50.00 and with the cost of the just the “service call” for most plumbers it will save you money if you can do some of the simple jobs yourself.

Speaking of money, some very nasty rumblings are starting to happen on Wall St. as well as the BRICS starting a Mini-IMF that completely bypasses the US Dollar.  I think/hope that the economy will hold together until Fall and others suggest maybe 2-3 years but the crash is coming. I was very surprised that east coast utilities were scrambling to buy “Russian Coal” for this winter.  The USA is rich in coal but this administration has shut down many coal mines in the name of the environment or climate change.  This does not bode well for those that are dependent on Coal fired electrical  plants if we have a cold winter similar to last year.

You need to make sure you have a backup way to heat and cook if you are dependent on electricity. We are heading into one of the best times of the year to pickup camping supplies on sale and you should see items like propane camp stoves and heater go on sale.  In my area of SW Idaho propane prices are stable and it is easy to buy a small propane tank for a gas grill for $45.00-$50.00 filled, or do an exchange tank for under $20.00.  If you can afford it get all your tanks topped off if you use oil and start getting wood for the fireplace  now rather then wait for it to get cold and then try to buy it.  Even a small Butane burner for about $30.00 and 8-12 cans of fuel ($7.00 for 4 cans) can be your cooking set up during any short term disaster.  If you pay for your fuel and food now you will reduce your stress and have some cash on hand to deal with any rise of electrical costs.

Paying off debt and adding to your “emergency fund” should be a priority and if you can pay a little ahead on any small monthly bills like insurance if you are new to saving cash on like I am and find it easy to spend all you make on stuff.  This month I paid off the revolving credit account with Les Schwab and paid ahead on my insurance.  I added back to my  monthly saving envelopes that I used for some sales.  I can save money shopping and I think I get a lot of hard goods/needs for each dollar. But saving cash is hard for me and while I’m doing better, it is still a struggle at times.  Most of this prepping and self-reliance stuff is an ongoing experiment of sorts and I don’t think you should beat yourself up if things don’t go exactly to plan.  The trick is not to give up just because of a failure and get back on track as quickly as possible. I would also prioritize with shelter, security,  water, food then sanitation and first aid if you you are unsure of what you should do next.  If one priority is good to go, then focus on the next area.  When I started prepping I tried to get a bit of everything starting with food as my priority and that was wrong but I had enough time to correct my mistake.  I’m in pretty good shape for the basics but I sometimes go off track because of sales, so keep your focus on what  is critical and while you might miss out on a great sale you must prioritize and stick with your plan.


Tested the Kitchen vent/fan, prgresso recipe starter and a bug hunt

July 14, 2014

I had to bake some bread and did not feel well enough to set up the Propane camp oven so it was a good day to test  how well the kitchen fan worked at removing the heat of the oven.  The microwave vent I use feeds up through the roof rather than back into the kitchen.  I was very pleased how well the vent did removing the heat. Only when I open the oven door did heat seem to escape into the kitchen.  This was my first use of the vent to remove heat and it was a huge bonus baking bread while it is so hot outside not to heat the kitchen up.  The vent helps with removing the heat when cooking on the stove top but not as efficiently when compared to the oven.

I got some of the Progresso recipe starters from Big Lots at 50 cents a can and tried out the basil using a slight modification of the recipe on the can using chicken thighs rather than the cut up chicken breasts. Basically all I did was season the thighs with a garlic and black pepper spice mix, Browned the thighs and poured the basil/Parmesan recipe starter in the pan and let it simmer for about 8-10 minutes. Then you  serve it over rice or a pasta of your choice and get about 6-8 servings easily.  This should work equally well with canned chicken or even cubed pork for a meal ready in about 30 minutes or less and does not heat up the kitchen a lot.  Or you could use this as a sauce for cauliflower/broccoli , potatoes etc.  or even a casserole and you know I like multi-taskers.  I want to add a few more of these “recipe starters” to the RV as I think it is a great way to make a very nice meal using minimal energy.  I have improved on making cream sauces and gravies but if you are still learning the whole sauce thing these starters are a great way to “cheat”  time and still have a great meal.  Making a good tasting meal is very helpful in maintaining health as well as morale in a disaster situation and I believe cooking from scratch is a critical skill to learn but there is nothing that says you can’t add a few assists to save time and energy.

Bugs especially some types are bad this year and I use DE for most of my insect killing but I forgot to keep applying it. So I added DE to all of the window sills especially the ones that have fans, my A/C unit and around the Doggie door. I  used the dust pan brush to sort of spread the DE along the walls and sills to try and get all the bugs. DE does not kill the bugs quickly and needs to be re-applied regularly but it is very safe compared to most other insecticides.  I use DE in my bulk food storage and have yet had to deal with a single weevil and it keeps my dog and cat food fresh smelling for months as well as a use as a De-wormer for many animals.  Always get “food grade” DE to use in your food storage as cheap DE is used as a pool cleaner and has some added chemicals that are unsafe to ingest.  Food grade DE may seem expensive at first but a little DE goes a long ways. I bought one of those 3-4 gallon buckets of DE, I think it was about 10 pounds by weight over 4 years ago and I have used about half  to 2/3rds of it and I’m storing 55 gallon drums worth of grain and a whole bunch of buckets for long term storage.

The heat has been brutal this month as it is not cooling off at night that we can usually count on that here in the high desert. The mulch I have added is making a huge difference for water retention in the yard and garden and the little A/C  is keeping the bedroom cool enough for sleeping as well as electrical costs somewhat low for a heat wave. Funny the heat in the Inter mountain west is getting very little notice but it cools to 75 degrees F. in July in Chicago and east of the Mississippi and it “polar vortex II”.  I suppose the news needs some sort of “hook” to catch viewers  and stating the weather will be “mild and temperate” just won’t generate the the same angst as the words POLAR VORTEX even in July.