Gutters cleaned, mowed up leaves and Mom doing some cleaning therapy

November 30, 2014

Cold and clear today and the good neighbor N. came over to clean the gutters in return for some beer and some mill ends for their fire pit. N. blew some of the leaves off my patio cover with the leaf blower. He really liked the new ladder since we can use it in A-frame mode ad it is tall enough to reach the roof.  The ladder can sit on solid/level concrete so that makes it a lot safer to use. Fred Meyers has the “Cosco” 5-1 ladder on sale this week for $129.00. I know it it is a little more expensive than some ladders but with all the positions and ease of use I think it is a great value.  N. brought my leaf blower so I got to clean my patio and moved a few of the items of Mom’s that sort of spilled over after running out of shop space. I moved Mom’s parkbench and got things so we can walk through as well as move stuff in the next week or two.  I think both Mom and I are a little burned out on that whole idea of lifting, moving and arraigning things for awhile.

I got the backyard mowed, mostly picking up leaves and added the leaf mulch to the small raised beds. I have my tall raised bed with a couple of plants that need to be pulled and add some straw and leaf mulch as cover. I ran out of trash bins and for tomato vines I feel a better throwing them away instead of adding them to the compost pile. I finished up the little doggie ramp for the dogs to navigate the step up into the house.  I’m kind of proud how well the little ramp works and looks as one of my first carpentry jobs with what is on hand and my own imagination. What I like the most is the little ramp is completly out of the way for us humans so we should not have any twisted ankles or falls from any missteps via the ramp.  Mom’s pekes are starting to settle in, but it kind of tough on the old dogs to adapt to a new home when they are short of sight and hard of hearing.  I believe that animals pick up on stress and they will get emotional charged when their humans are unhappy. These poor pekes have been under a lot of stress with the divorce and the move so it will take a few days for them to settle in.  Over all I’m surprised the pekes are starting to adapt after a day and we have got 3 eggs from the chickens in just two days including the move and roosting in small sheds in the kennel. I hope in another day or two, we can let the birds out to free-range a bit in the backyard. Overall the chickens seem happy and are showing very few signs of stress.

While I was out mowing leaves and helping a little with the gutter cleaning, Mom went on a cleaning binge in my house.  My kerosene lamp globes are not only dusted but cleaned as well as several my windows.  The big bathroom has been cleaned and disinfected within an inch of it’s life! I feel a little guilty, but for Mom cleaning is therapeutic. It is her way to exert a little control over her environment and it makes her happy to putter that way. Plus she is helping me in a sort of payback of taking her in. So it is something she needs to do for me.  I’m loving it! I can go do the yard work, make little doggie ramps and my home is clean I’m happy.

I don’t think many “folks” can adapt to a change in status. I believe if you are considering some sort of survival family or group you need to understand people’s strengths and weaknesses and let them do what they are best at.  A couple years back I did a post about a survival resume Now I did the resume from my point of view and bugging out. But you might want to consider the value of people and their skill sets. Perhaps you think anyone can bake, cook, clean or do a bit basic carpentry and plumbing.  How does your survival resume look and what are your skill sets?


Huzzah, the chicken pen is on site and the holly bushes are not!

November 28, 2014

I’m a little tired but a huge stress load has been lifted off my shoulders getting the chicken pen here and ready for the birds. Dad brought all of the panels for the pen on a flatbed trailer and helped me set it up, then he and I loaded up all the holly branches on the trailer that he hauled to the dump. I’m glad I had the holly stacked neatly as loading the trailer went very fast.  The chickens are a little crowded for now but the shed will be here in less than a week. The birds seem happy digging in some of the leftover compost/leaf clutter, Diana the peke is intrigued and Smokey the cat is ignoring the birds.  Thankfully we have a couple of warm days the birds to settle and I can run the power cord from the shop to the pen on Saturday.

I did not consider that we can sit and watch the birds from the patio when I picked the location. My estimates of the area of the pen were dead on and we have a good foot of clearance from the cherry tree branches. I had to sort of guesstimate the height of the kennel and was concerned about the clearance. While I whined about moving the mill end stacks of wood, I’m glad I got it done as one of Mom’s temporary chicken houses was a bit larger than I anticipated and it would have been much more difficult to move into place with the mill ends in the way.  The guys building the shed will have plenty of clearance for moving in the pre-fab walls and roof.  The tin snips made fast work trimming the chicken wire and should cut through the chain link fence with no problem. Buying tools through out the year has been a huge help with this project. Heck I even got to show off my new ladder to Dad while building the pen.

I tested out a small ramp that should help all the pekes go in and out the Doggie door. Diana is acting like she has a sprained front limb and is a little gimpy at times. Mom’s pekes are older than Diana and have a little trouble navigating steps so this ramp should make it easier for all the pekes.  All I need to do to finish the ramp is one cut with the saw then screw it together and paint it. Super easy job for the weekend. The trick will be getting the dogs to use the ramp!

I think Mom is close to hitting her wall. We have both been surprised she hasn’t had a bad Fybro flare, but I think she is getting close to turning into a puddle of goo.  Once her dogs are here and one more piece of furniture is moved to my place. I hope I can convince her to let it go and let the court divide the rest of the stuff.  With the world getting all crazy there is no reason to make yourself nuts about things you can replace. Things that are unique of have sentimental value are a little different, but a bed is no big deal. Heck, I’ll give her the bed in her room as I have a couple of German day beds and a futon that would work as guest room beds. As I told her today “this is not the hill you want to die on”. We need to move on, get  stuff organized not worry about scoring argument points or being pissy about minor stuff!

Feeling much better today

November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Turkey turned out superb. The temps were in the 40’s so keeping the BBQ up to temp was much easier compared to last year. I used a cup of kosher salt, a cup of brown sugar, 1/2 gallon of apple cider and about a gallon and 1/2 of water to brine the turkey for 2 days. This morning I rinsed off the brine, patted the turkey dry and added a New Orleans spice rub with no oil or butter under the skin. I let the turkey sit on the counter for about 20-30 minutes to warm while I started the coals in the BBQ. I set a small roasting pan under the grill to catch the drippings and stack the coals on each side of the pan. I rotate the bird every 20 minutes and flip it over every 40 minutes starting and finishing with the breast down. This year I used a local white wine in the roasting pan and occasionally adding wine to the cavity to promote cooking and add flavor. I think the white wine really helped keep the turkey moist. I let the bird rest covered for 20 minutes breast down before carving it to let all the juices settle back into the bird.  About 2 1/2- 3 hours cooking time for an 11.5 pound bird. The meat of the turkey will look a little pink under the skin because of the smoke from the charcoal so use a meat thermometer to make sure the bird is done.

The rest of the meal was Garlic mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn on the cob, fresh baked bread and punkin pie. Though neither Mom or I had pie as we sort of filled up on the turkey. Paper plates and plastic utensils kept clean up super easy though I do have a couple of pans to wash. I got to try out my Black & Decker toaster oven baking the pie and it did a good job, there does seem to be one hot spot in the oven that browned a part of the crust a little extra. I can fix that by rotating the food at the half way point or dropping the cooking rack one level.  We finished dinner early and I got a good nap that helped erase some of my tiredness.

Mom brought over a small load of stuff and got her room sort of organized, while I tended to the turkey and bread. I have a small kitchen so it is easier for one person to do most of the cooking. Plus Mom doesn’t know where most of the stuff is at in the kitchen yet! My system isn’t the same as her’s but she will catch on after she moves in. Her coffee maker is all setup, Mom likes flavored coffees and I like very strong black coffee, so having separate coffee makers makes sense. I think she is going to like the flexibility of the toaster oven compared to just a toaster. You can’t bake a punkin pie in a toaster! I don’t have room for a dinner table, but next year I hope to replace my broken dishwasher with an 18 inch wide model and rearrange the kitchen to be more efficient if not an larger. Then I can add a small dinner table to the kitchen.

I moved a few light weight things of mine in the shop to give Mom a little more room for storage. Some good news maybe, on moving the chicken pen. Dad emptied his trash trailer and might help us move the pen to my house. That would be a huge help to me with setting it up and save Mom a little money on renting a pickup truck to move the last few items. I understand that emotions are a bit strained between them but if Dad can help with the last few items that will get them apart so emotions can cool down some between them. Once the chickens are moved Mom can officially move in.

I want to pick up some winter boots Friday though I really hate the idea of Black Friday shopping. If I find the right size I’ll get a pair but the store has New Balance sneakers on sale for $30.00 and I would not mind having another pair of sneakers to switch out daily to make them last longer. I brought up a pair of my Army galoshes and have a nice set of slippers that I can use to make a warm snow boot. Plus I kept my old army Goretex boots and while not stylish they will work for a winter boot.

Someone hit me with bag of “tired” and a full bucket of Hurt

November 26, 2014

I finally hit my mental/ physical wall with all of the work I have been doing to get Mom moved in to the house. The timing stinks as it was a beautiful day in the mid 50’s and no rain. I didn’t even need to start a fire this morning as the house was a warm 70 degrees when I woke up!  After the walk about halfway through unloading boxes I just started shutting down and the pain was pretty bad so I just have to take a couple of days to recover. Thanksgiving dinner was planned to be simple and easy so that is a blessing. Mom and I are sharing the cooking of the meal and I managed to get all the dishes done, the dough is ready for making bread Thursday as well as the house is semi-clean. Mom says she might putter around her room organizing her things but there won’t be much for me to do after the meal is done. I can take it easy for the rest of the day.

We will be moving the chicken run, chickens, Mom’s patio plants and a few small pieces of furniture this weekend. Mom is looking at renting a truck from U-haul for the big stuff for a day to finish up the move. After that everything will be on-site and we can do a better job of how things are stored. The last item will be the chicken shed and the area is already for it to be setup. I I will need to cut a small door for the chickens access between the shed and the kennel and run a power cord from the shop to the shed.  The new jigsaw should make those jobs easy to get done.

Mom will be adding 3 pekes as well as the chickens so Casa de Chaos will be very full of critters. I think Diana the peke will enjoy having a pack of dogs around for her to boss around and she has always gotten along well with these dogs. Smokey the cat might be a little put out but all of the pekes are good around cats so everybody should settle in quickly.  Some people have expressed concerns about Mom moving in but I don’t foresee any problems as we both have switched back and forth between who is in charge and responsibilities when we have worked and lived together as adults. One really great thing about this house is how it is setup and if anyone needs a bit of privacy or alone time it is very easy to retreat to our respective areas/rooms.  Mom has her heart set on getting her own place in the spring and I certainly hope she can do that, but I don’t want her putting herself in a bind financially to meet some arbitrary date to move out. Who knows what will happen in the future, we might have to recreate the multi-generational homes of the past in order to make ends meet.

Brining the turkey, finished the last of the chicken coop prep

November 25, 2014

I’m using brown sugar this year in the Apple cider brine. I think it might add a subtle enhancement to the BBQ turkey.  If your turkey is still frozen you can speed up the thawing of the bird by putting it a food safe bucket filled with cool water and set it in the fridge.  Having your turkey still frozen when you try to cook it is a disaster waiting to happen! I have a couple of new gadgets to try out on this meal. I can go back to using the coffee grinder for coffee since I got a neat battery powered pepper grinder at a yard sale that holds a lot of spice for my new spice grinder. I have a spice mix for rotisserie chicken that I will use as the dry rub on the turkey.

Since I have most of the stuff needed for the outdoor kitchen next year I might try a deep fried turkey. I don’t know if this happens to other preppers as they get stuff, sometimes I suddenly realize that I have many more options because of the equipment I buy. While the outdoor propane burners were bought for canning and beer making in the summer there is no reason why I can’t use it for deep frying a turkey. Alton Brown did a show on food network using an A-frame ladder so you could lower the turkey from a safe distance and not worry about the oil splashing out and burning you. Guess what I just bought such a ladder!  The safety factor has kept me from doing a deep fried turkey in the past, but now that I have the tools it might be an interesting food experiment.

I went ahead and removed one section of the compost bin and moved the small pile of compost to the main bin. The deepest part of the compost pile is staying hot which sort of surprised me after the little cold snap we had this month. The spent beer grains sort of super charged the compost pile and I still have plenty of leaves for the browns. With the leftover beer grains the chickens don’t eat, it might be possible to keep the compost pile warm and working this winter.  Moving the pile will give me more room for the kennel/chicken run. Mom said the chickens might tear up that part of the yard but I think they will be a great help on working the soil, garden beds and compost pile free ranging in the backyard this winter.  The chickens will spend about a week in the kennel/run and a small chicken house until the shed is built. The weather forcast is for warm temps but a bit of rain. I think we might have to use a few tarp to the kennel walls in order to keep them dry. I thank God for that warmer weather we needed it!  A big plus from my point of view is I get a free education about chickens that I can use for starting my own small flock in the future.

Dad drove by and saw the holly branch pile I made and sent me a text that was thinking a few branches hauled to the dump not a whole forest.  Exaggerations aside I have to say the holly branches do make a formidable fence/windbreak when stacked up. If he has enough room in the trash trailer to haul some of the branches away great! Otherwise I will work on cutting and throwing a few branches each week in the garbage bins. The alley area looks much better so I should not get a nasty gram from the city and Mom has a place to park her vehicle out back.  I have figured out a solution for my slash pile from the mill end dump and once the chicken shed is in place I can re stack the mill ends against the shed for a little insulation for the chickens and Mom can park her Ford sort of under the carport. The overhead cover might help keep at least the front windshield clear of frost and snow this winter. I have a section in the alley I’m dumping the wood ash from the stove in hopes of killing out a few of the surface weeds and add some carbon and nutrients to work into the soil.

I did a little more organizing of Mom stuff in the catch all room, put a couple of bins in the basement along with bags of shoes. I think I have a few more shelves in the shop we can use for the lighter items and that could free up shop floor space for the heavy stuff.  This move was done in a rush and it is hard to make thing organized when you are in a hurry. Hopefully Mom is getting towards the end of moving the small stuff and once the chickens are moved we can organize her things so they take up less space and also thing can be found as she needs them.

Extreme jenga stacking millends, holly branches and making pandemic buckets

November 23, 2014

I have been a little concerned about the guys having enough room to build the chicken shed.  So today I finished stacking up the last of the tossed elm, freeing enough room for about half of the mill ends in the elm wood pile. I surprised myself in how much of the wood I got moved today and the area for the shed is all raked up and the rock layer looks level and ready to go.  One of the neighbors said there is a racoon out and about and has killed a few chickens.  With the shed and kennel the chickens should be safe from any predators. I have a couple  motion detector/spot lights that are sensitive under the car port so any furry little bandits should be seen before they can attack the birds.  Mom and I have pellet/BB guns so we can persuade the racoon to hunt elsewhere.  I wonder if the holly branches might help the neighbors to make a barrier around their coops against the racoons?  Those holly leaves act like rose thorns when I was cutting them down. It would be nice if we could get another use out of the holly, rather than just send them to the dump.

Lovely weather right now in the Treasure valley.  Upper 40’s today and it looks like it will stay warm until Friday so the BBQ turkey looks like a go!  SW Idaho can get sort of crazy weather depending on if it comes out of Alaska and is cold or up from Cali and is warm. We might even see the low 50’s this week!  I am letting the stove go cold so I can finish cleaning out the ash. The glass window of the stove is staying cleaner so I think I’m doing a better job of using the wood.  Mom said if she needs to buy a replacement stove for her new “home” she will get one of the Pacific Energy type stoves as they are well insulated and you can place furniture very close with no fear of fire.

Since Mom is moving into my Sickroom, I moved most of my pandemic supplies into buckets moving the buckets to my medical storage area. I’m using my blue buckets as sort of a quick color coding and one bag full of the Tyveck suits and the light weight bulky items.  This will free up a shelf and some floor space for some of her stuff like blankets and bedding.  In the catch all room I did a little more rearranging and moving some item to the basement so we gained a lot more floor and storage space.  A new goal for 2015  is to add more wall shelving and going vertical with my storage. I have the tools on hand and making shelves will be a great way to improve my woodworking/carpentry skills.

While I’m doing a lot of work because of  Mom moving in, it has motivated me to square away many jobs I put off because I did not want to do the work.  Nothing like panic to get you motivated to get stuff done!  Plus if I was a little to conservative about the space for building the shed I’m sure the guys would have moved the wood and charged us big time for a time consuming but very simple job.  The shed will be built the first week of December so I still have some time and it looks like good weather to finish up getting things ready for the chickens.

Finished most of the chores today

November 21, 2014

Last of the cell phone transfer is done and I got the veterans discount added. Hopefully all the hoops have been jumped through and there won’t be any more problems.  Dad is keeping my sister on his plan but by taking off both my phone and Mom’s he will save at least $20.00 per month and if he goes with fewer minutes, he could save some more money.  I’m trying to stay as neutral as possible but with Mom moving into my place it is a tad more difficult to be seen as a neutral party.

I finished up the Thanksgiving shopping and I didn’t get as good of deal on the turkey as I had hoped so I only picked up one eleven pound bird. The weather forecast looks good for BBQing the bird. It’s supposed to be in the 30’s and calm winds that makes it easier to maintain the heat level of the coals. I think the bird is small enough that I can use my rotisserie if the weather doesn’t work for BBQing the bird. One thing nice about being a prepper and having alternative ways to cook food, is it can make cooking the holiday meals a lot easier. Plus it is good practice for a disaster.

Speaking of the weather there is an alert for freezing rain and 15 mph winds tonight and Saturday though the temp is warming up a bit.  I started moving the holly branches to a spot where I can cut and bundle them up for the garbage truck or Dad has better access to pick them up and load them in the trailer for the dump. I still have about 1/4 of the pile to move, I’m hoping with the warmer temps melting the snow on the branches the holly will be easier to stack up.  I stacked the mill ends up higher and if what the store told me about how much room is needed to bring in the walls and roof we are good to go. The wood rack on the porch is refilled and I have a few days to a week worth of wood to burn. I’m recharging my cell phone and the kindle and got most of the storm prep done last week. I finished shoveling the bad spots  for snow out and added more salt to the front side walk just in case we get freezing rain.  Over all I’m prepped for the storm.

Mom says she will be coming over Saturday and we can work out the placement of the chicken shed and the placement of the kennel and the food for the chickens. I think the chickens will be happy in this spot because it is very well protected from the wind. The carport does a pretty good job and protecting of rain and snow so the chickens will stay dry.  I know if the chickens stay dry and out any wind/drafts they can tolerate cold temps very well.  There will also be plenty of room for the metal cans that hold feed for the chickens that is close to hand.

Last but not least I stopped by the beer lady and picked up some black and chocolate malt along with some hops and yeast to make a black lager, a black ale and another amber ale. I like making the darker beers in winter and the basement cools to the perfect temp. in winter for making lagers. I paid a couple of bills ahead, picked up a few oz. of silver on sale and got a little bit of a buffer to see how much more it will cost in utilities with Mom moving in. She is pretty frugal with electricity but we have added another fridge so cost will go up though I hope to off set some of the cost with the LED light bulbs.  Mom is sort of cold blooded compared to me and my sister so she might need to use a small electric heater in order to fell comfortable and I’m okay with that as she has offered to make up the difference in costs.  Her rooms get warmed by the wood stove so she may not need the little electric heater at all. I’m doing a lot better this year at maintaining the temps with the wood stove this year and she prefers the wood heat compared to the constant on/off cycles of an electric furnace. The chickens will need some heat and lighting this winter so that will add a bit more cost to the electric bill.   If Mom needs to stay into summer she has a small window A/C unit that will keep her and probably the front part of the house cool and comfortable in summer.

One last thing for you all. I really like the tower fan and small table I am using this year to push the heat from the wood stove though the house.  The tower fan seems to do a good job moving the warm air and it has a small foot print compared to box fans.  Outside of installing a ceiling fan the tower fan is a good compromise on cost and easy to add where you need it.

Last of Mom’s big stuff arrived today

November 19, 2014

The movers had to take off my front door to get Mom’s fridge onto the porch. Now that I see the fridge on the front porch I wonder why I didn’t put my little freezer there instead of in the shop? Well, live and learn once Mom gets her own place I can move my little freezer to the porch. Mom will probably be be moved in officially once the shed is built and the chickens get here in the first week of December. I need to move a few more boxes into the basement and the rooms need to get organized but overall we have enough space and Mom has a storage unit for the rest of her big stuff. Hopefully Dad can stop by and haul the holly branches to the dump next week and I can work on the carport area cleanup so the guys will have a plenty of room to work on the shed and Mom can park her Ford. Then again Mom may park the ford on the street as the ground in the shed area has a few uneven spots and with her knee the sidewalk is easier on her.

We have some more weather that is supposed to hit this weekend and they are calling for freezing rain. I need to get the wood pile stack up and shovel a bit more snow out front so I can lay down more ice melt before the storm hits. Hopefully I can finish up the shopping on Thursday, as Cash and Carry’s meat fridge died and I could not get my shopping done.  I wa a little tired today so I put off my shopping until Thursday. I have to get the turkey as it takes a bird a few days to thaw in the fridge and I want to brine it a few days. Pauls has a couple of items on sale and I want to get a new pair of snow boots this week. I sort of spoiled myself today cooking up a small Prime rib and fresh baked bread for dinner tonight. I wanted to see how the prime rib tasted after being frozen for almost a year and it tasted great and no freezer burn. Prime ribs tend to go on sale around the holidays so I wanted to make sure I could freeze it for a year with out sacrificing quality.

I can’t explain it but I have had an odd sense of foreboding the last couple of days. It seems more of a personal thing rather than a feeling that the SHTF for the USA. So I got the Kia gassed up, paid a few of reoccurring bills early, like car insurance, internet and the water and trash. I restarted my emergency cash savings plan again and I am holding off on replacing the drain pipes till next month and have a little more confidence in spending cash and I have all my ducks in a row so to speak. My advice for people is if you can make an emergency fund and not spend it, that is the best way to go for your emergency fund for 3-6 months of bills.

If you are like me and have a tough time saving cash, try to pay some of your small but critical bills early and up to 3 months ahead.  Since a savings account interest rate is not even staying on par with inflation, I think paying ahead on bills and saving yourself a late payment fee is the way to go, if you can’t seem to save cash like me. While very few people have a 3-6 month emergency fund if you have paid most of your basic utility bills early you will have time to adjust your spending in any event. One thing I am always concerned about is a bank run or the shutting down of banks and you have very limited access to your funds.  If you pay your reoccurring bills early, prepared on all the basics, then if a bank run should happen it is not not be a big concern because those bills are already paid and you have a buffer of 30-90 day of the next due date for your bills.  What is great is you can start with your smallest yet critical bill first and simply pay it one month forward. If nothing changes and you keep paying your bill you will always have that 1 month lead time and if money get tight you can blow off paying the bill for a month without any penalties.

Think about how nice it would be not to have pay any reoccurring  bill for 30-90 days.  It is very easy to do with most utilities giving you credit for any extra payments. While you might not have a true cash emergency fund you will know those bills are paid!

Mom ordered the chicken shed

November 18, 2014

The shed will be a little more expensive but it will be delivered and built in the first week of Dec. It is a local company and it is a wood shed and I like how they build it with a 16 inch on center studs and it comes with a steel and wood foundation that looks very solid. The company fabricates the walls and roof in their factory then build it on site so it is a modular system. I feel much better about someone who knows what they are doing builds this shed instead of me. I know enough about carpentry to know I don’t know enough! The shed itself is 6’x8′ and is just over 8 feet high, I can run power from the shop for a light and a heater so Mom’s chickens should be nice and cozy this winter.

I finally got the cell phones from switched over into my name. I will have to drop off a copy of my DD 214 for the veterans discount but it looks like the cost per phone will be around $28. 00 per month and that is doable. I’m a little peeved at Verizon store because of bad info given at the store, but I will say the gal on the telephone help line was very good. I have worked in food service as well as tech support and there is no reason to give out bad information about your programs. I always like to have good info upfront about having to jump through hoops rather some smooth talk about how easy something is to switch and it not be easy. I try not to blame the average workers as they are constrained by what they can say and do by corporate policies. But it is bad customer service to have a person visit a store five times to do a somewhat simple transaction of moving phone lines.  I don’t think I’m unusual in wanting some honest and forthright answers to start off with in any process.  I’d rather have an salesperson tell me up front that they have to jump through hoops with the companies PTBs and the fastest way to make something happen rather visiting a store many times when all I want to do is give them money for providing service I need.  What is really dumb is Verizon will actually make more money because we have added another plan.

Today was one of those days that it seemed very hard to get people to take our money. I realize our little bit of shopping was not a large amount of money to a big box store like Home Depot but they lost over $1200.00 in sales because of poor customer service. Mom wanted to buy a freezer on sale at Home Depot, only $160.00 but it was not in stock and they wanted to charge a $90.00 home delivery fee and take over a week just to get the item in the store.  Forget about Amazon I can get a freezer for about the same price at Fred Meyers and take it home today! I can get it delivered to my home in a couple of days with free shipping using my Amazon prime membership. I don’t get extra cool points for shopping at a big box store so if they can’t at least do as well as Fred Meyer’s they will lose sales. What is terrible is many of the employees are just as frustrated by the hoops they have to jump through and they know they are losing a sale!

I don’t want you to think I am just picking on Home Depot or that lowes is perfect. I have had both good and bad happen at both stores. The cooperate guys need to realize they must compete with great personal service to overcome Amazon’s low prices and really when Fred Meyer’s has as good or better prices, and item in stock to sell and you don’t stock an item in your building supply store is screwing up in a major way! Saving money is a big thing with some people but if you make it difficult for people to spend money at your store you are setting yourself up for failure!

Enough on my rant about basic economics. I should be able to get two free turkeys via Paul’s points plan. I want to buy a few more of the shelve systems at Fred Meyers so a .69 cent turkey will be doable. I like BBQing a turkey as the flavor from the mesquite seems to complement all poultry.  It also leaves the kitchen oven free for casseroles, breads and pie.  The holidays are going to be tough on Mom as she wants a close knit family and that has not worked out very well and the divorce will make it worse. I’m sorry that things did not work out for Mom. I think she wanted to become a matriarch and sort of square away the kids and that has not worked out so well. Life is not fair and we all just have to adjust daily to reality. The best we can do is plan, prep and adjust our plans when stuff happens to us.


Plastic on the windows and thinking about chicken coops

November 18, 2014

I covered  the windows in my bedroom and PC room with plastic and seems to have helped stop some of the drafty cold air coming in. I really need to replace those windows and add some insulation to the area around the back door. The house is normally a bit dark and leaving the binds and curtains in place makes it very dark and cave like. I prefer to have more light coming in and while the plastic does not afford the best view it has helped a lot already. The wood in the porch wood rack lasted just over a week in zero degrees days,  but I only used one bucket of mill ends mostly for restarting the fire in the morning. I learned a lot about burning elm and it seems that I’m doing a better job making it burn more clean if the glass of the wood stove is any indication by staying clear of soot.

I moved a couple of fans around and I think they will do a little better job on moving the heat from the wood stove towards the to rooms in the back of the house. Last year I used the fruit woods and mill ends the front rooms would usually hit the high 70’s 80 degree mark and it was very nice to go into the back of the house to cool off. Now that I’m keeping the front rooms about 72 degrees heating with the wood stove it. The backrooms of the house are just a touch on the cool side.  When I can come up with an extra $10-20 grand to remodel and create an open floor plan in the house it will do better for both heating and cooling. That project is going to have to wait a few years.

I brought up the idea of going with a couple of smaller coops with Mom today and it did not go very well. Let just say we are both a little stressed out by trying to get all this moving done as quickly as possible and doing it in winter weather is not helping. I came up with a new idea for the foundation of the shed Mom wants to get for her chickens that uses sand and some concrete patio blocks. I have used the sand and block method on small projects around my house and feel confident that it will work and might be a little less expensive and work better than using wood for a foundation for the shed/coop.  My carpentry skills are mediocre at best, but I have a lot of confidence working with rock, sand and patio blocks.  I’m also on the look out for more pallets that could be used as a short term foundation.  I would need just 4 pallets to build a a semi-rigid, short term foundation for the shed as long as I get it level.  I have half-assed projects because of a lack of funds or just not knowing how to do stuff, but I hate it because you tend to spend more money and time trying to fix a problem you created by half-assing it!

I understand  that being a prepper/self reliant means you compromise in order to get things done. While some people will not do anything to prep until everything is perfect. (Never) I don’t think a person should just go blasting off on projects without a little research and practice.  If you are good at carpentry go for it and the same for any skill set you have. I think it is wise to understand your limitations as well and consider those limitations when prepping.