May 24, 2016
Wow, what a difference adding some paint to the drywall in the kitchen has made on how it looks. Mom and I worked about three hours painting Kill-Z to the ceiling and walls. I had taped off most every thing prior to staring the primer paint job so it went quickly adding the paint. FYI working with Kill-Z paint is it is thick as it is designed to cover up stains so it took a couple of passes with the roller to get down into the drywall texture. I was a surprised that the Kill-Z paint did not have a strong odor, though it is noticeable if you don’t have good ventilation and air flow. The Kill-Z paint dried within a couple of hours. So a person could primer with it in morning and then add more paint/topcoat in the afternoon. While I’m not a huge fan of a sterile white color I’m amazed just how good the kitchen looks just using the Kill-Z white paint. The kitchen looks clean now and the lights look brighter compared to no paint and smoky walls. I don’t have a huge kitchen but I was a bit surprised we got the ceiling and walls all primed with just over a gallon of Kill-Z.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
As you can see the difference is pretty striking on how clean things look after adding texture and paint. I’m leaving most of the painter’s tape in place as I will be adding a semi-gloss off white to all of the walls and ceiling. Semi-gloss makes cleaning the walls a lot easier in a kitchen. You can see that Mom and I took down the last metal remnant of the dropped ceiling and that also made a big difference in how clean the walls and ceiling look now. Last but not least, the kitchen feels more open and inviting.
I would recommend buying Kill-Z paint to use as a primer especially in a kitchen with all the grease and dirt that gets on walls. If you are a smoker, the Kill-Z will cover the smoke/tar stains along with protecting your dry wall. I think buying the Kill-Z and using it as the primer will cost less in the long run compared to applying double coats of an expensive paint. At worse the I will get better paint coverage at the same price.
The kitchen still needs another coat of semi-gloss on the walls and ceiling but Mom and I are going to take at least a day off before we tackle that project. This works as Wednesday is shopping day and we are stocking up on meats and paper goods. I will add a few more gallons of semi-gloss paint and a couple more tarps for the wood piled on sale at True value. After the tarps are in place over the firewood I will start removing the roof that is basically rotting/warping wood over the wood pile area.
I can’t afford to restore Casa de Chaos to full Craftsman type home. I think I can incoperate some 1930-1950’s decorating design ideas I like to make the house a happy, warm and inviting place to be.
May 22, 2016
We got hail this week but most of the plants seemed to do all right despite the pounding. Most of my plants are somewhat protected in containers, so damage was minimal. We are sort of behind the power curve on planting the garden but so far that is not a bad thing as the weather has been a bit wonky this year. So far the plants seem to be doing well and my focus has been adding in grass, making my pathways and a backyard that works for me and Mom. Mom and I are doing a lot of basic yard maint. and cleaning up the grape vines has been a challenge this year since I let them get over grown along with the lilacs and a couple of or bushes. We got a lot of of the overgrown stuff cut back but we still have a lot of work to do on cutting back the grape vines. I’m a little behind on putting the garden and it is rainy so rototilling the soil is just not on until the soil dries a bit. I’m adding a new bed to the front yard for edible flowers and annuls that just add a bit of color. The flower bed will be done in red landscape timbers to sort of fit the “craftsman home” effect.
True Value hardware is having a great sale for most of the things I need. I’m buying up Semi-gloss paint for the house as that makes the walls easy to clean and they have tarps on sale that will finish up protecting the wood pile from rain yet the tarps can be folded up to let the wood pile dry. The wood overhead cover is rotting and boards that support the roof are warping big time. Two more tarps will cover the firewood and I can start cutting out the the bad roof over the wood pile. I will be able to afford enough paint to cover most of the house with colors that work with a Craftsman type house.
I just bought a 10 gallon air compressor/oil type from Harbor Freight and a basic tool set up. This air compressor should be a large enough for most basic jobs around the house. I bought a small paint spray gun for paint but until I test it, I’m not sure about trusting it despite the reviews.
Mom always see what has not been done. I see how much we have got done. Actually Mom gets down on herself for not doing more around the place. I think she is outstanding in her work cleaning up the grape vines and helping me trim up trees and bushes. I suppose it goes back to her being a recovering Catholic. It’s guilt imposed via childhood. I see the glass always full, It just might be full of air which is not helpful at times. I think we are doing great! The little “Casa de Chaos” got a new roof, a lot of work on the yard. Hell we can run my washer without running a garden hose to the shower. We have grass for the dogs and great paths that are a pleasure to walk rather than uneven dirt that could twist an ankle of knee. I think we are doing pretty well over all.
May 17, 2016
Well the back yard is finished as far as adding the last wood mulch path/section. I can’t do much in the area that contains Mom’s chickens, but I have to say the birds are doing an outstanding job on working the compost pile and the egg count is holding steady despite the fact the chickens are getting a bit old. Setting up the 4 foot high temporary fence that funnels the bird to the compost pile is working out much better than installing a temporary fence to keep the chicken out of the garden area.
The sod is doing okay but I have noticed some drying out of the grass at the seams and where I sort of cut and patched in sod in odd geometric areas. Also a couple of my sprinklers did not do a great job of watering the sod. If you add sod or grass seed you will need lots of water daily to get the grass established.
Now the first area I put down new grass seed is getting a nice green look. A few things I recommend. Buy seed that is good for your zone. while some grass seeds produce a soft lawn like a carpet. I went with a fescue blend or garden seed and the sod was a mix of Bluegrass and fescue grasses Also take in consideration if you have full sun or shady areas. Water daily or perhaps twice a day. Improve/Augment your soil before you add grass seed.
I don’t avoid walking on the sod as it has been in placed fairly well, but you don’t want to walk on any new grass seed areas. Most of the area I’m growing grass needed some soil augmentation. Adding in soil and compost may cost a few dollars and is a pain in the butt. The better you make your soil, the better results you will see in the long term. Once some grass has grown and then I gently rake in new grass seed. Over seeding a couple of times has worked very well for me.
I’m getting rid of three of the raised bed gardens as I think the garden section of the yard has fairly good soil after the break down of the mulch for 2 years and all the stuff I have added via compost and manure. Don’t get me wrong Raised beds and container garden worked great for me when I had terrible soil. Now my soil is better so I get to try out a new system for the garden area.
Will my new concept of the garden area work? I haven’t a clue, but if it does work taking care of the garden should be simple and less work in the long term.
May 12, 2016
Demon Murphy showed up on the last job with the drywall but things are still working out very well. I give most of the contractors an A+ on the job and a B grade goes to the contractor that broke the drain hose/ PVC connection while pulling out the washer to get at the drywall job. There was also a little over spray but Mom got it all cleaned up while it was damp.
We need to paint and I’m going with Kill-Z as my primer/sealer. Now that the contractors are done with their work, I need to paint. Once basic paint work is done I will post some pics. Overall I have had good luck picking contractors and the city of Nampa has a few more good solid contractors for the city. I got at least 3 bids for every job, several contractors I did not pick got into the city system for future jobs. It may sound a bit silly but all contractors were doggie tested and approved. I think animals pick up on body language and the pets don’t get faked out by those that talk a “good game”. Even the city of Nampa person was amazed about how great the people/contractors worked out. Well if my dog doesn’t like you. I’m going to give you some extra scrutiny. If my dog likes you, only normal levels of scrutiny.
While I don’t think I’m all that special. I think the city of Nampa folks likes me since I continue to make my yard great. It was a bit funny as a guy from the office asked where I got my cistern, mulch, soil and sod for the back yard project. I’m not alone on working towards some self-reliance. Every person that gets prepared or works towards self-reliance is one less target and one more potential ally.
Laying mulch pathways is not easy or cheap. It is a great way to add organic material to bad dirt and star building a topsoil as well as conserving water on lawns & gardens. Mulch is great for leveling dirt paths and provides a soft cushion if you fall. Hell just not worrying about twisting an ankle is worth all of the paths I have set done.
I’m at the lower end of the economic food chain and I got all this work done with some help of the city government and I’m sure some federal money was involve. These things can work and we should not throw the “baby out with the bath water”. These sort of jobs need to be focused on people that will improve them selves and not just looking for another handout.
I probably added a few grand of value just by cleaning up the stuff that was out of code. But I have seen this house valued as low as $55 grand and as high $135 grand. It’s just my little house I will make the best I can so it works for me. I ain’t looking to sell or take out a heloc.
May 10, 2016
For the border around the rock entrance way and chicken pen I used landscape timbers rather than the concrete borders. My reasoning is both Mom and I have bad knees and we tend to drag our feet rather than not so tall to step over stuff, especially when we get tired from working on the yard. The landscape timbers have a rounded edges, so we don’t tend to to catch a toe or foot that can make us fall. The landscape timber I’m referring too is the stuff you see and home improvement stores that they use with concrete blocks to make a small border fence around displays outside the store. Mom fed the chickens and had no problems with navigating the new wood borders even with her stiff knee but both she and I can have a few problems with the scalloped edged concrete edge borders when we are tired.
I cut into the bare dirt in order to place the timbers so they would be tall enough to keep the rock and mulch in place, but so tall they would trip us up as we work in the backyard. I know most people don’t break up a yard in sections but I’m very pleased how the mulch pathways and different sections are working out. While I’m breaking up the yard into sections I’m planing to eliminate several of the raised beds for the garden. The mulch has broken down and has improved the clay soil beyond my wildest dreams. I will be eliminating 3 of the 4 raised beds and going with a bit more traditional garden rows this year.
The areas that have grass seed got weeded and the grass is growing. So far I have added grass seed several times and I am water those area a lot more than I thought would be needed. But we do have grass growing along with some weeds. Mom helped me clean out the weeds in the backyard strips along the borders/mulch. Grass seed needs to be watered daily and be prepared to reseed every week until the grass gets starting out. Speaking for myself it seemed the grass seed was not growing for a week or two and then it suddenly started growing. Remember the grass will look a bit thin and it will take some time to fill in bare areas.
Mom and I did a bit of weeding and I love the new little garden cart I got at Fred Meyer. I was still a bit sore in the lower back, but my knees were saved from the pain squatting to pull weeds. I really like as I can toss all my small gardening tools in the little garden wagon.
Do your best to make all jobs as easy as possible because if the SHTF you will be working hard just to do basic stuff to survive. Mama nature does not care about me being a Vet or being disabled. I have to be creative as much as possible because this test is a Pass/Fail. You live you pass this test.
May 5, 2016
This is the before and after on the sod project. The rest of the grassy areas will be done with grass seed. One mistake I made with the grass seed was not keeping the ground wet. I’m now watering the grass seed areas daily and it has helped get the new grass areas started growing. I will be using landscape timbers as a border on the right and at the rock entry area at the back gate. The last job will be adding in more mulch on the right and that should keep down the weeds and break down to add organic material to the dirt.
Mom did a great job on cleaning up the grape vines and the alley way. Now I can add the sedums, plant the sunflowers and add more mulch to keep down the weeds and hopefully the new plants will start choking out the weeds. Just killing or pulling weeds is not enough if you want to have good soil and growing spaces. You got to help mama nature by replacing the weeds with good plants.
Now that we have the backyard mostly finish mom and I can concentrate on the garden area.
May 4, 2016
Laying out sod isn’t cheap but it seems to be a good choice for the small area I want grass for the doggies. The area I’m laying the sod is 30 feet by 12 feet so about 20 rolls of sod is enough to cover the area. I laid out 12 rolls of sod today and another 8 rolls should finish up the job. The other areas along the borders I have planted grass seed and while slower, it is also a lot easier on the budget. Prepping/building up your soil is critical for both grass seed and sod along with keeping the ground, grass seed and sod damp so the grass can take hold and put down good roots. The internet has great info about how to lay out sod as well as calculating the cost. You will get sod for about 30 cents per square foot and if you have poor soil figure about 30 cents per square foot to improve the soil. 65 -75 cents per square foot is a good guesstimate for the cost of sod but if you have time for growing grass from seed you can half that cost. Of course if you buy sod in bulk you will probably get a better price. If you have someone else install the sod you should double the price because of labor. I think most people could handle laying sod as a DIY project and save some money at least if you want to sod a small area and not a whole yard.
For grass seed or sod you will need to prepare the soil. A de-thatching rake is perfect for cutting into bare dirt to make it easier for the grass to put down roots. Also a de-thatching rake is great for keeping a lawn healthy. I’m adding a lot of top soil as well as some Steer manure/compost mix to augment the clay soil I have in the backyard. Mom’s chickens are doing a great job turning over the compost pile, but I’m still learning the best way to incorporate the compost in my yard work and building the soil. If you decide on sod, lay out the rolls off set sort of like tile so the “seams” of the sod are not all parallel or you will get gaps. Plan your yard to make all yard work as easy and quick as possible while being inviting. Using mulch and rock to block weeds, creating borders and paths ways will stop you from creating bad/dead areas in your lawn plus cut down on weeding or using a weed wacker around trees that may cut into the trunk and give an opening to bad bugs. While I’m cheating by adding sod for a quick lawn area I’m also looking at what the yard will look like in the future as well as how functional it is for ease of work.
A few things I noticed about laying out sod. The dogs love having the grassy area and have not done as much digging where I have planted grass seed in other areas. By adding mulch and now the sod we have several nice soft areas that are a pleasure to walk on and will help cushion falls. This is a great thing considering my handicap and works well for anyone with weak bones. A big plus for me is I’m leveling my backyard and no longer fear twisting an ankle then falling down on hard soil or concrete paths. Mulch paths help retain water and healthy grass will help a lot blocking any weed growth. Healthy plant growth really cuts down on the mud the dogs bring in. Last winter was a nightmare of mud because I had so much bare ground. Gosh if I had kids it would have ten times worse.
One last thing. If you have a clay soil don’t add sand for drainage as you will make a terrible concrete. Add organic material such as a wood mulch or compost. This is a slower method but after the mulch/compost breaks down over the winter you will have better soil for plants and or a garden. Using sand for leveling if building a stone wall, deck or garden bed borders is okay. Building good soil can take years depending on your dirt. Remember if you have lots of weeds your soil is probably missing something. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to experiment with solutions. The solutions may not work but at least you will have learned something practical and not just based on theory.
Don’t be afraid to screw up as that is how you learn. The school of hard knocks may seem a little expensive but it is still a lot cheaper than a college degree and you get to try out both theory and practical applications of your knowledge.