My Gosh, what a not so good week!

April 30, 2015

It’s been an emotional exhausting week for Mom and I.  It started on with the Mom getting every “button” pushed by Dad’s Lawyer. I have to say she was madder than a wet hen when she got home and really got motivated to finish up some paperwork and tracking down records. I suppose some people get angry, do nothing and just sort of chew on that anger. Mom and I tend to re-direct that anger into proving the person wrong about what they have said about us. Questioning our honesty, integrity or honor is a great way to get both of us “fired up”! We don’t have much so that personal integrity think is very important to both of us and we will fight to protect it.

I got very emotional about Diana the peke getting hurt by Samson the pit bull as well as having to return the pit to the pound. There is some good new though as the pit bull is available for adoption again and Diana the peke seems to be feeling better but is still a little gimpy. I tried a small amount of the “essential oil” pain relief salve on her sore spots and it seems to help and she did not have any negative reaction.  I did a lot of research and you can use some essential oils on dogs safely. My hope is after testing a little bit of the pain salve on Diana the peke and it works we can use the salve on the other dogs.  Cat’s don’t handle essential oils at all as it acts like a liver poison. I tried a commercial “natural flea killer” made with essential oil on my cat and she had a very bad reaction almost instantly, so I would never use any essential oils on my cat. When my cat had the reaction to the oils I washed her down with Dawn Dish soap to get rid of the oil and the Dawn worked great!  I would recommend if you are using essential oils that you keep a small bottle of Dawn dish soap handy just in case you need to wash off the oil because of a negative reaction!

Of course not everything was bad this week! I had a good day shopping at the local dollar store and stocked up on several of the magic eraser type sponges, got several cans of wet dog food and three bags of those heat-shrink plastic window insulation kits for next winter.  I was amazed by how well those plastic window kits did on eliminating drafts and retaining heat this last winter.  Replacing your windows is sort of expensive and stocking up on these kits is a good idea. I like this plastic as it is clear and lets in sunlight and you can see out your windows. Plus these kits can help seal your windows in case of a NBC/Nuclear, Biological or Chemical accidents or attacks, dust storms, volcanic ash depending on your location and threat level.  I got hit with Tear gas several times in the Army as a part of my training and you do not want that stuff coming into your home.  I will do a post about protecting against riot control agents this weekend!

It has been tad difficult this week but we are still standing.  Actually I learned quite a lot though I did not care for the emotional roller coaster. If the SHTF we will look back at weeks like these fondly. While things are tough they really are not that tough yet.



Got the “emergency backup dog” today and stored the snacks Updated!!

April 28, 2015

Today Mom and  I stopped at the pound to look at a few dogs we saw online. Mom looked at a peke and I checked out a small pit bull.  I have a new dog though Mom is still thinking about the peke.  Samson the pitbull is small, about 16-18 inches tall at his shoulder and weighs 36 pounds though he is a little on the thin side though he does not act like he is starving and I have started him on a high quality dog food.  So far so good, he is intrugue by Smokey the cat and got swatted by Smokey a couple of times but Samson did not get crazy, just backed off and mostly ignores the cat. Samson the pit was intrigued by the chickens and has some chase instinct, but overall I was very happy how well he behaved his first day around the birds while they foraged in the backyard.  Diana the Peke tried to assert herself at Samson’s dog dish and there was a small altercation but no one was hurt but Diana’s pride and she got slobbered on. It is interesting that Samson the pit has shown zero interest in Diana the peke’s food dish and he does not seem overly protective of his food.  Smokey just tagged Samson on the nose but that is more Smokey the cat not caring for dogs rather than Samson not liking cats. Mom’s pekes are very accepting of other dogs and so far Samson has just has sniffed around them and then ignored them.  It’s only been a few hours but once all the critter’s settle down I think Samson will find his place in the “Casa de Chaos” Pack.

Update: The pitbull did not work out. Diana got aggressive toward food and Samson the pit snapped back at her and had her down. Diana has a sore leg but otherwise okay. I took Samson back to the pound.

I have had several dogs but never a pitbull. Samson is very sweet and much more accepting of people and critters in general than I had anticipated.  While I have been looking for a dog that is slightly more intimidating than my peke. I don’t want a dog that is viscious day to day.  Pekes tend to have have a heart of lion and are about as intimidating as a Hostess “Sno ball”.  While I’m not sure Samson the pit will make a good guard dog. I know I would think twice about entering a pit bull’s “space” of any sort, while a peke is not much of a threat besides barking an “alarm”.

I have been looking at rescued dogs for several months and I think a person should take time to evaluate what you want in a dog, understand the breed and see if you and the dog resonates with you. In my mind a pet is not a way to check a block or accesorize. It is a living creature who needs must come before your own.  If you are not willing to prep for your animals or share the last drops of your stored water or your food. Don’t have animals! While I’m a Christian and believe in the Bible.  I really hope one day I can be as good a person as my dogs seem to think I am.

I ran out of “popcorn tins” storing my snacks. I moved on to a 3.5 gallon bakery bucket for the saltine crackers, bagged pretzels and corn chips.  I doubt most preppers have live on their storage for a month or two. I have and I like salty snacks  and had none during my little adventure.  For some people it might be sugary snacks or chocolate.  It is your preps and while there is plenty on the Internet  about prepping. Make your own stock pile work for you and your family.

I like storeing bulk goods beans and rice to bulk grains. A few cases of canned fruits and veggies will work until you get a garden planted but sometimes you just need a quick snack and ramen oris pasta is great for a quick meal.

Mulched around the garden beds, weeded and got the last of the food sales bought up

April 25, 2015

I had 6 bags of mulch leftover once I finished the front yard so I added those bags to the mulch around the garden beds.  Last year I laid down some landscape cloth between the garden beds but I was not pleased with the results.  It did block the weeds except at the edges and the cloth tends to shred if you work clearing out the weeds which allows more weeds grow. The layer of mulch I laid down last year was only an inch or two in depth and you need at least 3-4 inches of mulch to block out the weeds.  I have to say that the soil under the landscape cloth did look much darker and had plenty of good bugs working the soil. Even a thin layer of mulch made a tremendous difference in how much I needed to water the lawn and garden last year.  Of all the wood mulches I have tried the Scott’s Earth gro seems to be the best as far as cost and how much it will cover.  If you don’t use landscape cloth it is much easier to rake the mulch around, clean up any weeds with a hoe/Hula hoe and make the area look clean and neat again.  Using mulch has really helped make my yard and garden areas look good and retained water. If you live in an area prone to drought, mulching is something you should consider trying out.  Water not only reacts to gravity but to osmosis and will try and reach an equilibrium.  In my experience you don’t want any bare dirt around your place, placing mulch on bare ground in a 3-4 inch layer is much better than having bare dirt if you don’t want weeds.  Plus weeds are not that bad as they work as Nature’s plant paramedics to hold soil and stop erosion.

I stopped by Albertson’s and got another 3 chickens for the freezer. While my little freezers are full, Mom’s freezer had a bit of space for the birds. I figure we have about another 2-4 weeks before we start seeing a price hike on chicken via this “avian flu” thing.  A good thing is chickens don’t take that long to grow like pork or cattle, now is the time to practice your meat canning skills and your freezer and dehydrating foo on chicken.  Egg cost maybe effected as the PTBs are killing huge flocks of birds and California made new restriction on chicken raising and what can be sold in Cali.  I feel for the average middle class in California, but this what is coming to all of the USA. Short-sighted “feel-good” policies via Diktat.

All around the world the banks and PTBs want to eliminate cash and go to electronic money. I think Bank of America tried not accept FRN’s for payment about 3-5 years ago and now JP Morgan Chase is doing the same.  I believe the Federal Reserve Note (FRN) state’s it is good for all payments private and public.  I don’t know my country any more! I’m going for junk silver while it is so low and I will go grey or black market and barter.  I think we are safe for a market crash this spring now you got watch the September-November time frame.  Look for value, build skills and barter opportunities. Get your basic survival supplies and try to get out of debt.

Great buys at the store for stocking up and Mom is a bit stressed with the divorce

April 23, 2015

Albertson’s has a great buy on whole ckicken/leg quarter at $.88 cents per pound. With the “avian flu” starting to hit the Midwest poultry farmers, stocking up as much as you can afford on eggs and chicken is a good idea! Can it, freeze it in order to preserve that chicken now so you can ride out any rise in cost or at least mitigate it. Mom’s chickens are producing eggs very well and she got a new scoop shovel for cleaning out the chicken house/coop.  You know you are a “red neck” if you get excited about buying a new shovel!  Albertson’s has a great buy on saltine crackers 10 for $10.00 and what they call their quarters sale. A lot of it is convenience food but also some good buys on canned goods.

The 16-20 count shrimp are on sale again at $6.99 per pound along with some crab legs and Lobster tails at Albertsons.  Paul’s Market has some great deals on pork! Bone in Sirloin roasts for .99 cents per pound and Bone in Pork chops for $1.29 per pound.  I like meat as a protien, buy some for your freezer and can or smoke/dehydrate the excess when you get a good buy.  I don’t think I’m evil when I stock up on good frozen pizza when it is on sale or stocking up on some “fun-size” candy bars. I added 6 boxes of saltine crackers and a few bags of chips so we have some snacks if things go sideways. I store the crackers in those big popcorn tins with a little DE sprinkled in the bottom of the tin and that does a great job keeping the crackers fresh tasting over 3 months that I have “so far” tested. I have not done a test on how long “chips” will stay fresh tasting but I hope that the cracker storage method will work for chips.

I got the two small freezer stocked full of meat. I splurged on some sirloin steaks for $3.99 per pound and added 4 boxes of facial tissue .88 cent when you buy 4. I added 8 of the little packages of taco seasoning, sloppy joe mix and gravy packets for .25 cents each.  Three cans of coffee at $6.99 and 10 cans of dog food.  I have upped my grocery budget but I am restocking the short-term (2 years) food storage we ate during the first 3 months after Mom moved in and I got most of the “holiday” meal items on hand for the year.

Cash & Carry has a sale for “Cinco de Mayo” and some bargains on spices, rice and beans! Buy now and stock up.  I think we might be seeing grocery stores clearing out coffee for higher prices. So I would stock up on regular coffee if you see it under $7.00 per can. There is always lag time, in any natural disaster be it Ebola in Central Africa(Coffee growing), Avian Flu in the midwest or a drought in California.  You need to stay ahead of the power/cost curve! When 2 or more stores sell a product cheap or on sale it is usually time to stock up on that product  as the cost will rise!

On to Mom and her getting a bit stressed about the Divorce! She is in a “dither” about money she pays me. But I can handle the extra cost of utilities so far and most costs should go down this summer. Mom is not a person to let things go. Actually she annotates and builds grudges to certain extent. Then stuffs all grudges and would display them on a “Mantel piece”.  Money is a bit tight for Mom so I gave her an out and now she feels guilty. Crap! darn her catholic upbringing!  We are doing okay financially. We have plenty of the basics and all I am  doing is stocking up one the thing that are wants not needs.

I got a great buy on more wood mulch to finish up the rose beds and had enough to mulch around the holly bushes. Besides looking better the mulch should help cut down on weeds and retain water this summer.  I’m going with concrete blocks for the border of the rose beds and in the holes I’m adding dirt for mini-planters for flower like Pansy and edible plants like multicolored kale,  lettuce and some herbs. I want to paint the blocks and then label the plants  names with chalk to give them a less industrial look. It will be the middle of May when I can afford enough blocks to finish the border but using the few blocks I have on hand I think it should work well and look nice. Along the the other fence line I’m gong to try a “wildflower” mix of seeds I got at the dollar store. I have no idea if the seeds are any good but if they do grow I will have the start of the “English” country garden look, I want for that part of the yard and I hope to attract bees too do that pollinating thing for the rest of my yard.

Mom and I finished limbing and cutting up all the wood trimmings and we stacked the wood pile with about 3 loads of the 18 gallon gallon party buckets worth of hardwood. That is equal to about two days worth of heat in the wood stove on a winter’s day. While that may not seem like much all it cost was a bit of sweat, time and a little electricity to charge the battery powered chainsaw.  I need to cut back and prune several trees and while I doubt any city home owner can grow enough wood to heat their home, use what you have too help augment your energy supply.  Go walk about in your neighborhood or parks and pick up pine cones. Those pine cones are great tinder for starting a fire.  If you are using a rocket stove as your back heat/cooking stove you need fuel and you need to have some fuel stored up before TSHTF rather than trying to gather wood and competing with others for the same resources.

The yard trash is piled high in the alley for pickup.

April 19, 2015

Mom went to work early today and cleaned up a lot of stuff in the carport/alley area area and we got a lot of trash stacked for Spring pick up.  Huzzah! I got a place cleared in the shop for my broken dryer. I think the dryer got over heated via feedback and I hope we can replace an element or two and get it working again, but it is off the patio and the patio is clear of all leaves and stuff.

The patio looks a lot better and Mom picked out a morning coffee spot for summer that should work for her little chimneia and her park bench.  I can’t speak for all people,  I believe having your own personal space in a multi-generational home or roommates makes life much easier as people have a little “private retreat that belongs” to them.  Of course Mom and I are not the norm!  Mom deserves her own little spot in the yard she can call her own. She often poo-poos what she does but she does all work she is capable of doing in a day. Sometimes it’s an hour and sometimes it is puttering for 5 hours but we never know what we can accomplish day to day.

I mowed the lawn and used the garden rake for getting up thatch on half of the front yard. I bought another 10 bags of “Scott’s Earth gro” mulch at home depot for $2.50 per 2 cubic foot bag and mulched the holly bushes.  I also broke my garden wagon pintel and I’m bummed about that, though I think I can fix it. I love my garden cart as it makes hauling  stuff very easy compared to muscling it around the yard. I have a wheelbarrow that works so losing the cart is not the end of times.

Eye glass update, I think I should have gone with progressive lenses but I love my sunglasses. If I don’t need to read the fine print. My basic eyesight is good up to 18-24 inches. Distant vision totally fuzzy and depth perception without glasses is a no-go.  The bi-focals snap the small print in focus. Paying about $150.00 for sunglasses and prescription glasses was a great buy!  That does not mean I don’t have to get used to my glasses.

I’m not going all prophetic as I’m too low on the economic food chain to guess what the PTB’s will do in the next 3 months.   I think the PTB’s  are going for a small summer crash after they folks “sell in May and go away”. I have no idea if the PTB’s can control a crash. While I’m solid on basics I need to get a few items stocked up.

Finished limbing the the branches and the shopping list for the week.

April 17, 2015

It was a breezy day but Mom and I finished trimming the branches the Idaho power guy cut down. The larger branches should add a couple of days worth of wood to next year’s wood pile. I finally figured out how I want to prune my cherry trees. You ever have one of those problems that seem tough and then suddenly the last bit of info clicks into place and it all makes sense?  I figured out how to prune the trees after seeing how a neighbor pruned his fruit trees back and reading the term “cut those suckers back at the crotch”.  While statement sounds a bit violent it is memorable.  I need to prune back a lot of those “suckers”  on the cherry trees and this years harvest will be almost nil, but if I can get the trees healthy, happy and put on good growth the next 2-3 year harvest should be good.  I get a bonus of adding a little bit more hardwood to add to my wood pile. Make no mistake I can’t grow enough wood on my lot to feed the wood stove in winter but I could see how a homesteader with a few acres might go with fruit orchard and have some pruned wood to augment the wood pile, or perhaps use the pruned wood/chips for things like smoking meats.  My prepping philosophy is about using up all you have on hand without having to pay “retail”.  I also think about value added,  all I have done so far is a hot smoke or slow BBQ of things like a turkey. I think that flavor added is value added, plus a slow smoke preserves meat. Adding a few fruit/dwarf trees and learning to prune them properly could have many benefits besides the fruit.

I got my 10 bags of mulch for the front yard rose beds. The winds have been cold and very unpleasant but by Thursday things will be warming up.   I am a firm believer in mulch augmented with your compost for water retention in your lawn and garden.  It really saves water and if you don’t believe me simply mulch one area of you garden and leave dry soil in another, I bet you will be surprised how much water is retained in the lawn/dry area, at least I was surprised by the difference. I  added mulch to the other rose bed in the front yard Friday and the Scott’s Earthgro wood mulch went much farther than the Viagro mulch based on per bag coverage or “2 cubic feet” per bag. Based on my two rose beds of equal length, width and depth 6 , two cubic ft. bags of the Scott’s Earthgro covers the same amount as 8, two cubic ft. bags of the Viagro bags.  In the last couple of days I used the weed wacker to take the weeds to ground level, used the Hula hoes for cleaning out weeds and Mom and I pruned and cleaned up my roses and Mom raked the lawn for small branches a twigs from the last little wind storm. We cleaned up a lot of yard waste, one big bin (65 gallon) trash bin, two 30 plus gallon trash cans , about six 50 pound feed bags and two large construction grade garbage bags.

Mom seems incapable of of realizing how much she does helping me out. Just having an extra person trim roses, rake the yard and help clean up the trash is huge for person that did all those thing alone and is a huge time and energy saver. Mom is willing to help me with projects I do and is a great sounding board for ideas as she is well grounded in “Common Sense” which is not that common! No, we do not agree 100% of the time but that is okay because even this small home we have our own personal space to do as we wish.  It is a bit surreal at times as many people seemed to think Mom and I could not live in the same home. But we never had a problem working together when I was her supervisor, and while it is my house and my rules, I allow a lot of freedom as I had roommates as a civilian and in the Army. Heck we aren’t 12 year’s old looking to be popular and both of us tend to quietly rebel in our own way against the “status quo”.   Oh, it isn’t perfect, I’m sure Mom bites her tongue at times as there has been a bit of role reversal, but overall life seems to be going well.



Planting pansies and trimming up stuff

April 11, 2015

The pansies from Fred Meyer’s are planted in the back yard flower bed.  I think they got a little root bound but they should bounce back with having good soil and room to expand. I set up a small border fence to protect them from the chickens scratching around.  Mom’s chickens are sort of lazy and they can forage most of the backyard so the birds don’t work all that hard to get in the flower/garden beds if they see a small fence or other barrier.  Deep mulch seems almost irresistible to the birds but so far the cheap little garden fences do a good job keeping the birds out of my new little flower beds.

I got all  of the elm branches trimmed up. Little stuff in the garbage can and the larger chunks in the kindling bucket. I have 3  branches that need to use the small chain saw on rather than the loppers. Overall I was darned pleased how quickly the job was done. About an hour of work with the loppers filled a trash can and some kindling bucket for the next fire wood season.  I weed wacked a few weeds but dumping wood ash in the alley has done a a very good job killing out many of the nasty weeds. My plan is the wood ash will add a bit of carbon to the very poor soil and kill some weeds and so far the weed killing is working out well. I’m not sure about adding carbon as this the first year dumping ash. The first alley mulch area is doing great for killing weeds though a few little weeds have grown along the border areas. A few weeds is much easier to deal with compared to a large nasty weed infested area. I am staying away from Roundup and other plant killers as I want to build new garden beds that like the growing conditions in the alley garden. I have to kill out the bad weeds and introduce a new set of plants as well as improve the soil so the good plants I want can grow.  Weeds are not bad, as they are nature’s paramedics to protect soil from erosion. I also don’t care for “cheat” grass, goat heads or Morning glory for ground covers. You can build good soil and plant crops and cover crops that will choke out weeds, but it takes time to do it naturally.

I want to learn/try a perma-culture and other systems that work together on your garden to make it thrive.  The other half of my front yard looks like has room to  support a mini-orchard of five dwarf trees. I want to add a couple of small recirculating fountains or pools and a cool seating area sort of like a Spanish plaza/Persian garden for hot summer days.  Both the plaza and zen gardens will take time and money to setup but I should be able to  start with recycled stuff I have on hand.  I doubt I can afford everything this year but I can start with some of the cheaper materials and begin prepping the areas for the future gardens. A new thought for the rose bed borders is using regular concrete blocks rather than flat pavers. I can set the blocks with the holes facing up, add soil and use them as pots for plants that are both decorative and edible!

I’m still getting used to my glasses. I can’t say the bi-focal lenses are kicking my butt but I notice an extra bit of tension in my neck as well as a bit of eyestrain learning to use the glasses, though I don’t seem to have the problem of curbs looking odd like I had as a kid. In someways I think I got used to things being slightly out of focus and my brain is trying to learn how to keep things in focus. Okay I’m done complaining! It is still early days of getting used to the glasses, but I really love seeing things clearly again! Tonight I looked up at the stars and they were so sharp and vibrant that it just stunned me.