The garden planting is almost finished added a raspberry and blackberry in big pots

May 29, 2015

This year I’m trying to avoid overloading my raised beds.  Mom was a big help on the plant placement of the plants that tend to spread out and those that grow up and out.  I’m doing more winter squash rather than the patty pans to see how they grow and store this winter.  Winter squash should store longer in my basement compared to the summer squash, though the summer squash did last until Jan.-Feb. after harvest which is pretty good in my book.  I have a space in the big bed for the onion sets I got from my aunt and I think I may have space to grow a tomatillo plant. The raised beds are about as full as I want to try this year!

I  have tomato cages and garden stakes set up to direct some of the plant growth.  I’m usually behind the power curve on that aspect of gardening.  The berry plants are in big 18 gallon “party buckets” and will be set among the front yard rose beds. While I don’t expect fruit this year, my hope is they will grow, unlike the berry starts I tried in past years.  I can’t blame the plants as I was kind of dumb about growing black/raspberry plants via proper soil, placement and water drainage.  I’m very excited to how the berry plants work out! Gardening takes practice and sometimes you can do everything correct according to theory and have a lousy harvest.  Sometimes you can do many things wrong and have a good harvest.  All a person can do is create the best environment for growing and after that it is up to “Mama Nature”.

I won’t be getting the kiwi vine/tree this year.  While I like the idea, something like a cold hardy Meyer lemon or some of the cold hardy dwarf lime trees make more sense because of the vitamin C.  Plus storing long term is much easier with many citrus type fruits.  From salting, candied, dehydrating to using a lime or lemon daily is much easier that using a kiwi fruit.  Don’t get me wrong, I think growing  a Kiwi fruit tree up to Zone 4 is very cool. But is it the best use of my time, available land and physical energy?  D & B farm store has Olive and Fig trees and while they sound interesting, both trees need  several years of care before they produce fruit and olives tend to need a lot of processing before they are consumable by humans.  Remember your physical energy will be almost as limited as your fuel supply.

Last but not least the little 20 inch tall fence and garden stakes are working out great protecting the raised beds from the chicken’s scratching when they free range.  Overall, the fence is working much better than I anticipated when I first set it up.


Got some plants in the garden, the chicken fence is working and got some shopping done

May 26, 2015

The storms are still rolling through today but the forecast is drying out and into the 90’s this weekend. The storms have been inconvienent for planting though every day of “spring rain” helps  extend the irrigation water.  The first plants have gone into 3 of my raised beds and Mom got her plants in some big pots for her “garden”.  Since it looks like the divorce thing will stretch into August, using pots is a way Mom can grow stuff she likes that can also be moved if she get a house she likes later this year.

This year I’m trying to plant smarter so my garden does not go berserk like it did last year. I added more celery plants, swiss chard, a winter squash as new plants. I recommend if you can grow celery and dehydrate it you will add flavor to your soups and stews compared to store bought celery. I’d say the difference in taste between store bought celery and home grown is comparable to the difference of home grown and store bought tomatoes. I have a few more plants to get but they are ones I have planted before and should not be as much as a challenge though I’m still working on growing melons. The local farm store has a Kiwi bush/dwarf tree this year that would be a unusual fruit tree to add variety  to the perma-culture for the front yard. I haven’t worked out how to do all the front yard plants yet but adding to the food production as well as curb appeal is one of my goals.

Home depot was out of the brown mulch I wanted.  It could be for the best since I want to add mulch in the alley way rather than all rock to cover up the weed patch. The wood ash that I dump this winter did a good job stopping weed growth in the places I got it an inch or two in depth. While wood ash mixed with water creates lye that is a caustic acid, I’d rather kill weeds using wood ash rather than a soil sterilizer like Roundup that kills everything. I got eight bags of rock to add to my drive way that should help slow the weed growth and not create water run off problems like concrete or black top as the water will permeate the soil. Concrete and asphalt screws up nature and covers the soil that could actually absorb the rain/runoff. Cities and states should be encouraging rain barrels and natural materials terraced landscaping that mitigate storm run off rather than fine people that store and release rain water in a controlled more controlled manner. Your water rights are not violated by a rain barrel! All that water will still enter an aquifer, creek and river it will just be a little at a time rather than a flood!  I heard on the radio today that major Metro areas like Houston and Atlanta have a lot of concrete and asphalt that might contribute to “flash flooding”. Gee ya think? Yet who creates those mandatory roads and  of concrete, outlaw rain barrels and codes for McMansions, postage stamp yards and only golf course type lawns that can’t absorb water. Sorry, I think I pushed my own button!

At Home depot I priced a few replacement windows and shutters. While not cheap, they were not as expensive as I thought it would cost for replacements.  I’m sure most contractors mark up materials to pay for storage and other costs and I don’t have problem with that mindset. If I have the materials at hand I should be able to cut contractor costs by at least 33-50%. I think of it as sort of a lay away system for construction/home maintenance.  Today I got my home value assessment from the county and my house is supposedly worth about $100 grand and about 5 years ago it was worth about $60 grand. While I don’t want to sell my home it is worth no more and no less than what some one is willing to pay for it.  The county can claim any value for a home as they are not buying it.  I think all government asses values of a home should be tied to the county or city buying a a home for the county or city declared taxable price and everyone may sell to the local PTBs and get the assessed price as a starting bid. If a person decides to sell, the tax authority must buy the house for at least the same amount as the tax assessment.  I bet home values will drop like a rock along with property taxes.  A home is only worth what another person will pay to acquire that property.

I got the  40 pounds of chicken quarter for $20.00 and add another 5 pounds of bacon for about $12.00. The kitchen trash bags not on sale were 200, 16 gallon bags for under $7.00. C & C had a new item, virgin coconut oil, cold pressed and GMO free in a gallon bucket for $48.50 per bucket. You need “good fats” in your food storage and coconut oil seems to have a 2-5 year storage life at least and it it is a healthy fat unlike many trans or hydrogenated fats.  I recently saw an article that cooking white rice with coconut oil can reduce rice glycemic index by mitigating white rice starch. That would help many per-diabetic and most type two diabetics with blood sugar levels.  If you rinse your rice before cooking to clean off the starch, I’m not sure if coconut oil will be a great help on making white rice more nutritious.  Coconut oil is a great multi-tasker for making soaps, salves and even candles so it it might be a good choice for your pantry (fat/food oil) storage.

I think having a garden is a great way to augment your food storage. I think domestic farm animals and hunting is a great way to augment your food supply. But very few have the land,  knowledge or physical energy required to homestead.  I don’t think it is to late to start prepping and getting self-sufficient as much as possible. Start with a small herb garden in pots or a raised bed as many herbs are great flavor enhansers and often have medicinal value. Herb tend to be very expensive to buy in the produce aisle so you start saving money right away!   Start preparing local starting with yourself, family and neighborhood and don’t try and DC or general politics. There is no collective good, only individuals doing the best they can each day.


Memorial day!

May 24, 2015
Flanders Poppy on the First World War battlefields.

by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Many gave some, Some gave all!

First part of the chicken fence installed, cleaned up the PC desk areas

May 24, 2015

Mom’s chickens are a bit older and sort of lazy so I cut the 40 inch plastic fence in half, bought a few 24 inch wood garden stakes and I got 3 of the raised beds enclosed and no chickens went over the “wall”. I used 24 inch garden stake with the cut down 20 inch fence. That gave me about 4 inches of stake to pound into the ground without binding the fence.  Though a couple of the chickens did eyeball the garden fence and saw it as a change, none of the birds jumped the fence,  so far so good!  I set the wood garden stakes and then used my staple gun to attach the fence and one 25 foot roll of of the plastic fence enclosed 2 of my small 4′ x 4′ and the big 8′ x 8′ garden bed. I really over-estimated the amount of fence materials, but I got a few ideas on using the fencing on building defensive barriers.  I think the plastic fence may work to protect your windows in an average wind storm and might be helpful repelling riot type weapons away from your windows.  Used with chicken wire, plastic fencing might work even better than either alone.  Kids and critters could have a somewhat safe area marked off with the fence and while most chicken tractors use chicken wire there is no reason not to use some of this plastic fence in place of chicken wire!  I think this fencing might work for climbing plants or re-enforce your cages.   Thinking out side of the box is a critical skill for all preppers.

I cleaned up my PC desk area and it was pretty nasty. I did not have just webs and dust bunnies but actual Spiders that died of old age.  My keyboard was very nasty and the keys got a good scrub down via rubbing alcohol, gauze pads and medical Q-tips.  I cleaned up the PC desk and printer area and added my SW radio charging stations.  Some good ways to clean key boards.  Q-tips and alcohol from the dollar store, add a few gauze pads and you have at least some basic clean up tools.  Post it notes do a great job cleaning out your key board. A post-it note run down the space between keys does a great job collecting debris. You can run most keyboards and laser mice though a dishwasher’s upper rack and let it fully dry before attaching to a computer. If you can afford it, have a have a backup mouse and keyboard before cleaning!

All to often we forget that most people are living paycheck  to paycheck. With so many people running at the ragged edge of their budget or going into debt, hoping things will get better. Things can get very un-good very quickly. If you depend on a pension or SS for your basic cost of living you will be crushed either negative interest rated or Hyper inflation. Don’t think you can pay off debts cheaply in a hyper-inflation scenario as all your basic living cost will go up measured in multiplication tables at best and exponential units at worst.  Remember it is about value and what you can trade. If gold goes to $64,000 per oz. what does that mean to Joe sixpack? He has no gold and is probably in debt to his eyeballs.  A new gold standard means nothing to him! Hell he was born in 1970 and never new anything but paper Fiat currency.

The PTBs are idiots to think they can make any fiat currency hold value over 2 + decades. I do not care if Cash paper currncy is outlawed. I will spend all digital cash for other goods I need. Oh we will spend those “credits”/ digital money.  I’m guessing most will spend it ways the PTB’s hate.

Working on the yard and garden between the rain storms

May 22, 2015

I finally got the weed whacker out and knock down some of the taller growth and around the edges/borders. Locally we have had rain almost every day so it has been sort of hit and miss getting yard work done before the next rain strom rolls through the valley!  Don’t think I’m complaining as all of my rain barrels are full and the front lawn is doing great, and my holly bushes are putting out new growth.  Even the old rose bushes I thought I might loose due to age are sprouting healthy growth!  I am thrilled by how well the mulch seems to be working. While it has not quite stopped all the weeds, it seems that the weeds growing in the mulch don’t put down deep tap roots. It is almost like the roots run along the top of the soil just under the mulch and that makes weeding much easier for me.

In the alley way beds the first thick layer of wood mulch is working great but the weeds are growing around the edges. It is mostly “Cheat Grass” and Morning glory so far, I think I got rid of most of the Goat-heads/puncture vine. Home depot has some decrotive “pond rock” on sale .5 cubic foot for $2.50 a bag. I added four bags to the entrance of my shop to sort of see how much the bags of rock would cover.  For the driveway I need another 8 bags of rock and I know it is expensive to buy this way, but I can afford the lower start up cost and haul the rock and mulch in my mini-van.   If you have a limited income it is a lot easier to spend $10.00 or $20.00 a couple of times a month rather than try and save up $200.00 to buy in bulk once or twice  a year for yard and garden stuff.

Never forget that your situation is unique, so how you do your thing will be unique.  That does not mean other people won’t learn from you or can’t tweak your plan to work for them and their situation.  For me, I get inspired by how people do things I never considered trying out and I often change plans when I see a new idea that is better than my thoughts on a given subject.  Goodness know’s I thought of a small carpet cleaner/spot bot as a want to have, rather than a need to have. If you are house training a pet or cleaning up after an older animal. That little carpet cleaner will save you time, effort and paper towels. If you have kids they will spill and make messes and that little battery powered cordless vacume/rug cleaner saves both time, energy and paper cleaning products.

I picked a few little “pony packs” of plant on sale. Standard garden stuff though I got a colorful Swiss chard I want for the front yard beds. D&B has an “arctic Kiwi” bush/tree that should grow here in the treasure valley.  I like the taste of Kiwi fruit and want to try growing it here at Casa de chaos.  I grew celery last year from a Utah green house, dried it and I think the flavor is rich and vibrant even dehydrated without tasting bitter like most store-bought celery. A couple of my Snow peas/sweet peas did make it through early spring and my strawberry bucket is doing great!

Any person given a big enough budget can plant a great garden or yard if they are willing to saturate the dirt with chemicals. My way is slower but I know it it is more sustainable and I think it is healthier in the long run.  Are you building your soil for the next generation? Is your garden sustainable for someone, yourself or your kids 10 years in the future?

Buy what you can afford short term but try and think long term! I’m read a story about a parachutist that asked how long he had to pull his reserve chute and the instructor answered “The rest of your life!” . None of us know how long we have to live before our ticket is punched.  If you live everyday like it is your last day on earth, sooner or later you will be right!  I bet dollars to donut if mom get a few grand settlement on this divorce she will find all kinds of “financing” for cars to homes. Well in 30 years, it will 2046 and  she will be 100 years old.  I think she will make it but it may not be the best bet for a real bank!

Believe in what you can touch, and you can protect yourself. Everything else is just playing the game!

Helping Don and Sarah

May 22, 2015

I wrote about Don back in January  and his gas can explosin . As you can imagine they have some high medical bill so they got a gofund me site started.

If you can add a little to help them out and/or keep them in your prayers. I would thank you!

Sometimes we all need a little extra help.

Again thank you all

Great start on my shopping this week

May 21, 2015

Sometimes I get lucky and the things I want to get go on sale at the right time. This was one of those lucky weeks, though I got a bit of sad news about Deb, my beer Lady at Nampa Brewers closing down her shop after a diagnosis of Leukemia.  She had a sign posted that she needs some quiet and privacy while she fights this disease so I got a couple of cards I will mail her and keep her in my prayers. I think she may have been overwhelmed with offers of help by neighbors as well as students and customers. One thing nice about snail mail it is quiet compared to all the electronic and phone ringing!  I am lucky that Nampa has another Brew shop I can get supplies at though cheaper, it is not quite as personal as going to Deb’s shop.

So onto the shopping, which is sort of tied into going to the new brew shop and picking up 50 pounds of 2 row malt.  There is a small second hand store next to the brew shop and they had a small camp chair I wanted for the BOV and it cost a whole $3.00!  Harbor Freight has a 4ft. x 6ft welding blanket rated for 1000 degree F. that I want for additional heat/fire protection with my little camp stove and it is only $17.99 with coupon.  I know the welding blanket is not a replacement for proper hearth but I figure it will give me more options in a Bug out situation.

I got a few bone less beef round steaks and a roast at Paul’s market for $2.88 and $2.68 per pound. I went to chicken and pork when beef got so expensive that eating hamburger seemed to be a treat. Overall pork prices stayed fairly low the last 12 months in this area except for bacon. Now even bacon is coming down in cost, Cash & Carry has 5 pounds of bacon for $11.95 for a per pound cost of $2.39.  Cash & Carry has a great buy on frozen chicken quarters for 50 cents a pound for 40 pounds. That is a lot of chicken but that amount should let me get through this “bird flu” thing hitting the mid west and avoid paying through the nose for chicken later this year.

Home depot and lowes have a good memorial day sale on lawn and garden stuff.  Lowe’s has a good wood  mulch $2.00 per 2 cubic foot bag and Home depot has the Scott’s earth grow mulch for $2.50 per 2 cubic foot bag.  I prefer the Scott’s Earthgro mulch as it seems to cover a bit more area per bag and I like the color of the Scott’s brown mulch. Personal preference on my part but I’m willing to pay an extra 50 cents per bag for the Scott’s earthgro mulch.  Home depot has a roll of 40 inch high and 25 foot long green plastic garden fence for $7.98 per roll. I’ll need about 4 rolls to keep Mom’s chickens out of my raised beds. But I think I can use a some of my scrap lumber to setup a the temporary fence around the beds.  Mom’s chickens are well fed and sort of lazy so a simple barrier fence should work. Home depot has concrete blocks for a $1.49 each and some rock I want to test in my alley 4 bags .5 cubic feet for  $10.00.

Unlike some people (non-preppers) who seem to think that prepping costs a lot of money. I find I save a lot of money as I buy items that are “loss leaders” on sale and I can adapt quickly to changes in food costs yet still maintain a good diet.  When you start doing something new there is usually an initial investment you must pay for up front,  but in the long run you can save a lot of money.  What I have found out about prepping food is once you have about 3-6 months of the basics you can start buying only the items that are on sale and you will need in the future.  There is an ebb and flow to prices based on supply and demand. The price of an item jumps up for some reason, a bunch of people want that price and start growing that item and then there is an over supply and the price drops. What you have to do is buy on those dips and have plenty on hand when the price spikes then reload on the dip in price.  I always start to worry when the PTBs say don’t worry. There will be plenty of turkey this November, though at a slightly higher cost. Well if turkey goes up to $2.00 – $4.00 per pound I can imagine there will be plenty of turkey available as most people won’t pay $40.00 + for a 15 pound frozen bird. I think if things work out as I suspect and the economy does not melt down this fall, we may see great sale prices on frozen turkey after the 1st of the year.

Prepping in many ways is similar to being in a small boat at sea. If a storm is coming you have two choices, get out of the way or run before the storm. Either way you are going to get wet!

Tuesday was my prepping day and I sort of dropped the ball as I wanted to do a local HAM radio net call and Spaced it. I did get out all radios and got them recharged.

D-day/Divorce court day for Mom is this Friday. So far I do not seemed to be required to go to court unless Mom’s lawyer tries and works on the judge’s sympathy of me being a disable vet.  What I have heard about will happen both will be less than happy with the settlement but over all I think it will be the best outcome for both of them.  I worry a bit about Mom as she seems bound and determined to move out as quickly as possible. I have no problem with her taking her time and finding the place she really wants rather than the first available that might work financially.  It is sort of funny that she raised me to value myself as a human being and she often does the opposite with herself. Oh don’t get me wrong, I’m way less than perfect and I work very hard to make up what I lack but I think I’m a fairly descent human being to be around. I sometimes think I’m the only person in Mom’s life that valued/accepted her as she is, simply because she is a darn good person. Just a human doing the very best they can in all situations. Perfect, no just human and the last perfect person was hung on a cross and I don’t need that in my life.

People are are just people, Goodness knows I bought into the debt and death paradigm.  I’ve “screwed the pooch” many times and I’m still learning stuff especially after I have screwed up.  God did not give me CIDP because he hated me, at best it is part of a flawed human condition at worst God made me wake up to my screwing up by the numbers.  Either way I have changed and have become a better person I hope! I certainly have less stress in my life.