May 30, 2017
The small 5000 BTU window units are installed once again and the wailing and gnashing of teeth was not excessive. The window in Mom’s room is always a pain as it slides side to side rather than vertically. So we have to remove the sliding section of window and then cover up a large gap above the AC unit so we don’t have either heat or bugs come in the house. I used a bit more wood and some of the thermal barrier to close off more of the gaps around the AC unit and the window frame. I think this year Mom and I did a much better job on eliminating all those small gaps compared to previous years. This year I used cedar shims to help brace the bottom part of the AC unit in the window. This seems to be better for supporting the weight of the AC unit.
Mom and I installed my AC window unit in about half the time because my window slide moves vertically, so everything is much easier to install. FYI I use bits of thermal barrier to cover the gaps and cracks around the AC unit and the windows. This material seems to do an acceptable job for stopping bugs and hot air that might come into the house. The last bonus of installing the AC units is using them really seems to help with allergies that happen in the early stages of summer.
The last part of the AC install is I ordered a portable 8000 BTU air conditioner for the living room. This unit is on rollers and uses a tube out the window rather than being installed in the window so I’m not sure how it will all work but between the fans and the existing AC units we should be able to handle the summer heat this year. Between adding the new roof , attic vents and how well the house is insulated this last AC unit will take the house from tolerable to extremely cool if we need it. By using several small units we can choose what to cool in the house and when we cool. A big factor in my thinking is it much easier to plug a couple of small AC units via a generator compared to powering a large central AC unit. Remember heat can also kill, oldsters and the young are the most vulnerable to heat. Even one cool room could make the difference in surviving/ thriving. The most important thing to remember about survival is do everything you can do to not get dead!
Surprisingly, I’m just slightly ahead of the power curve. Usually I’m at least 3 steps behind the curve. Then I also tend to put myself in that position of playing catch up. I was hoping to find some sweet corn starts at the local farm store but nothing was found but we got some lovely flowers and added some basil and another type of Rosemary that we hope to grow. I have some seed for sweet corn so we will go with that for the beds.
Update on the rose beds I hacked and slashed. Most of the roses are not only recovering but thriving! Who’d a thunk it? Improving the soil, mulching to restrict weed growth could make such a difference?
Update on the mouse hunt. Well we got several mice and the Sachets are having an effect. Of course the mice have changed up what they are doing because of the sachets. I do think the sachets are worth the money especially if you want to prevent a mouse infestation. Making good shelving and have good containers that don’t give mice a place to breed or feed is next. Remember Rodents are not your only prepper problem. Insects is also a big deal.
I got lazy and did not follow proper prep procedure. Doing your preps correctly the first time same time, effort and money long term. Prepping for the long term is my goal!
Don’t get me wrong getting a 3 week supply of the basics on hand is a huge accomplishment! Honestly I think that is the biggest accomplishment based on myself prepping. Three weeks is not difficult but it takes some effort and once you reach 3 weeks of prep adding another week for a month’s worth of prep seems simple. Hell I got a month’s worth of preps then your mindset starts to change. Or at least my mindset changed.
I have to stop myself as this is a new blog post about changing mindsets.
May 28, 2017
Simple and Easy are not Synonyms. They are very different words with very different definitions. Building my compost walls is simple that does not mean it is easy. Starting a garden is simple that does not mean it easy. Using a wood fire stove is simple that does not mean it is easy. Simple and easy are very different concepts. Building a raised garden bed is easy, but building the the soil, the seeds to plants and how to water the bed can get complex quickly. Simple and easy are not synonyms.
Well I never pay much attention to the SJW types when making my garden so I’m good. For gosh sakes SJW do you have so much time on your hands to strike down the heretics? Also how are you any different than any cultists?
The PTB’s do not want you self sufficient. The PTBs don’t want you having a wood stove, growing a garden or collecting rain water. Without you being dependent on the PTBs they have no purpose. So grow a garden, make your own bread, make a wood pile and go solar as much as you can with your income. Every step you take to become independent is a strike against the PTBs.
I’m getting a bit peeved that the SJW don’t seem to understand White or Beige is a color! I’m low on the economic food chain making $18 grand a year but I should support the SJW and their little “pet causes”? Nope not going to happen here at Casa de Chaos. I will grow Tomitillos and revel in the fact I grow Purple tomitillos! OMG I’m a white person that want to can salsa grown from my own garden. I’m not Italian and I make raviolis. and I want to learn how to make Pirogis. Not learning about food and other cultures are an anathema to the SJW or is “profit” the anathema?
So you person of color and over all schold please tell what us white people are allowed. I’m sure we will read your comments and then we will….
Of course since you use facebook, computers and the internet were invented by white people you will stop using them immediately. Gosh we would not want any cultural appropriation.
May 26, 2017
The compost bin build is heavy duty and the first wall weighs quite a lot. So how do I finish up the build without making it so heavy I can’t move the bin in place? Fence brackets! These little fence brackets are cheap at .67 cent and look to be a great solution to not only the compost bin but the shelves I want to build in the basement for storage. These little brackets have an open end so you could adjust shelves if needed and gosh with a cordless drill it is dead simple to build stuff if all you need is a 90 degree square cut. Another thing with these brackets you can take advantage of strength of the wood. Having the 4 inch section weight bearing of a 2×4 is much stronger than using the 2 inch section. A big bonus is if I have to move the bin or shelves I just unscrew the boards from the brackets and adjust.
A thing to think about if you are a prepper is what do you have on hand to build some basic construction? Some people love using nails and are good with using nails. I scare nails in at best and if I hit a nail square it is a minor miracle. Driving screws is easy for me and I have a lot of backup systems in place to deal with using screws in building. Removing a screw is usually easy and takes very little physical effort. Removing nails takes a lot more physical effort. I love the self drilling screws and try to add a pound when I have an extra $5.00 available for prepping. Having a a selection of screws for jobs around the house has made my life easier and much more conducive to getting prepared.
Using Tech to make your preps better…. I have seen a small LED under cabinet light it is Battery powered and rechargeable but it uses a USB powered outlet. This is an awesome setup for a prepper as many of the small fold able solar panels are USB only. The battery packs are also only USB outlets only. You can charge a good LED light bar batteries via an outlet or via a small solar panel. Gosh if you have good/ adequate lights via solar that is less for your generator has to power. You won’t have all the power you want if the SHTF but every little bit of energy you can get the most out of is a good thing. I’m no Environmentalist but I think the more you can get off the Grid and are not dependent on the grid is a good thing.
Mouse update: I think we are disrupting the mice but are following through on the first step is a bit lacking. Eliminating all the food sources is a priority, adding new food safe shelves is also a priority. Follow up on cleaning with bleach and eliminating the mice hiddey holes. I think the balsam oil sachets have disrupted the mice but that is not to say it has eliminated the mouse problem. I think the Balsam oil sachets are a good preventive solution and a less than perfect driving mice out of the basement solution. What has worked is washing down wall with a mild bleach solution and a a lot of sticky traps in the house and enclosed metal traps in the chicken house.
I did not have a problem with mice until this winter. If you have exposed food sources and a warm house you will have a vermin problem. That problem will probably grow worse if the SHTF and garbage piles up. Eliminate the bugs and vermin now! Stock up on materials that work for you.
May 24, 2017
I was dreading putting the compost pile together because it was going to be heavy to put in place! Solution! add deck (stringers) I think that is metal brackets are called (used on roof rafters) on the 4×4 posts and the 2×4 can be dropped in those brackets easily. All I have to deal with are simple 90 degree cuts and I believe the compost pile build will be much more robust and stronger long term. There is nothing wrong with using pallets for a compost bin especially if you build it properly. I did not have those carpentry skills, tools or know how to to use those skills or tools properly. I am getting a bit better at trying to do things properly the second or third try of building.
I’m learning, but I do tend to be a trial and error person. Usually I tend to screw up by the numbers and then I find the how to build something. I also tend to be a person that needs a bit of time to figure out stuff before the “lightbulb” goes off in my brain. Trust me, I screw up and half-ass a lot of projects and learn what does not work before I get a clue about doing it correctly the 1st or 2nd time. I do not recommend this system but it sort of works for me. One thing I never do is use nails. I don’t hammer in nails, I scare nails into boards at best. I much prefer using screws as I often screw up building stuff. Using a drill to remove a poorly placed screw is much easier than removing a poorly place nail.
Now on to the boardwalk garden path. How do I use the Cedar boards left overs I bought for the compost bin? What about building a garden board walk? My handicap may make me less mobile and I still will want access to my garden, so why not build a boardwalk? Plus it will help keep my little digger dogs out of the garden. At least reduce the doggies digging area in the garden. This just an idea I’m kicking around in my noggin.
Last but not least I ‘m getting the pups brushed, combed and cleaned up. I’m sorry to say I sort of ignored the doggies and they paid the price. I am brushing out the pekes and the under cut is brutal but the pups are getting mostly cleared of matted hair. One thing nice about Jackson the terrier is his coat is easy to deal with, now the guy is terrified of scissors. My trimming the Pekes was ugly but all of the pups got a good brush/comb out. A mediocre trim of mats and relieved of extra fur for summer.
Keeping your self and critters cool in Summer you need to get the Ryobi mister fan! About $80.00 but it works great in 100 Degree F. days. Plus the 18 volt battery works with all Ryobi tools. This a great cooling system in summer. If you live in a hot summer climate you need this little battery powered mister/ fan.
May 22, 2017
One of the worst things in the alley way beds is weed control. The soil is really bad for most plants other than weeds and the weeds tend to be very unpleasant, full of pointy spikes and leaves. A few years ago I tried using weed killer and I not only killed the weeds I killed the soil and that only invited in more weeds. So for the last 2 years I have used Black Walnut leaves as a “killer mulch” in the worst areas. Oh I still have some weeds but the weeds are the broadleaf type and not all pointy and annoying like puncture vine/goatheads.
I have added some wood mulch and two plants that seem to grow great in poor soil and with little water. Sunchokes have done great and while they can spread they grow/spread slowly. I planted Sunchokes three years ago and all the plant has done is got a bit thicker and bushy. The roots/Rhizomes are still localized and not taking over the alley way area. Low growing sedums planted and add a bit of wood mulch to retain water. I planted sedum for the first time last year and half of the plants came back this year. Not to bad for a plant that is subject to getting driven over and growing in poor soil with very little water other than rain.
The alley way beds are a work in progress of eliminating the nastiest weeds first! That includes adding mulch and plant that I want that grow in poor soil conditions. I’m also adding wood mulch to start to help with both water retention and as a sort of ground cover that prevents some if not all weeds. While this is not a perfect system I have had very few goat heads or cheat grass to deal with in my my beds despite the fact some of my neighbors have very thick “nasty” weeds. The best way to stop weeds is to improve the soil and add plants that you want that don’t give weeds a place to grow.
We are trying out some Balsam oil sachets with out mouse infestation of the basement. While still early days it seems that the mice do not like the Balsam oil Sachets and the mice don’t always go outside to to escape the odor. The mice do seem to be concentrated in my food storage area and while I “dropped the ball” on some of my food storage protocols, but most of my long term food storage is safe from mice.
Prepper porn often consists of shelving units and there is a reason for that! The SHTF has not happened but I have a darn annoying mouse problem. Gosh can you imagine how much worse it could be if trash is not removed for a few months? Work on fixing your problems now when you can access to stores or even “vermin control” you can call in if needed.
Last but not least, learn from others mistakes especially mine own. Don’t beat yourself up if you let a few item slide. We are all learning stuff and we all make mistakes. At this time we are afforded time to live and learn.
May 20, 2017
I think SW Idaho is in the new 5A Zone that includes Arkansas. That being said you really need to grow celery. I have had good luck growing “Utah High” via starter plants and seed. Celery is easy to grow and I think it should be in every garden. The plants grown in “peat pots” are in the garden but we still feel things may not work out but are willing to give the plants a chance. We re-potted all plants from the small “peat pots” and will hand out to neighbors if the plants survive.
The little garden fence was a no go and would not keep out small peke that wants to dig in dirt. It is an ugly fence but somewhat effective and cheap. You might see the new marigolds planted around the raised beds.
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Mom says we have a bit of space for other plants but I want to see how the plants fill in the garden over the summer. I placed the bird bath out in the garden as I noticed the little birds taking dust baths.
I sprayed the outside of the house for insects and the product is supposed to be residual for at least 3-6 months. WE have bugs and I dropped the “ball” being proactive on dealing with vermin. Prevention cost a lot less but you have to deal with what life hands you even if you “Screwed the pooch”.
Plan of attack for the vermin. Spray the insect killer inside the house where bugs may gather and breed. Sort of the same way I deal with the mice. New shelving units built or bought that can be put on casters and easy to move. Place all food in at least heavy duty buckets or bins.
I screwed up by having a food source accessible. Now I’m paying the price of trying to eliminate both bugs and rodents. Learn from my mistakes and screw up now. Golly we all screw up while learning new stuff and that is a good thing in the long term. Of course it does tend to cost us a bit short term.
Okay a bit of a re- hash but I put up a fence that seems to stop my dogs digging up plants. I sprayed a insecticide barrier around the house. I finished planting my starter plants in the big garden bed. Not a bad bit of work for a Saturday.
May 18, 2017
In the last couple of weeks of our mouse hunt we have caught over 40 mice in the chicken house and in the house. For traps we are using box traps and sticky traps because we have critters and pets. Snap traps will injure any animal and while sticky traps can get the dogs the traps can bet cut away with some scissors. I’m trying out a rodent repellent in the basement that smells of balsam fir oil. I added 6 bags of this “repellent” in hope that it will start driving the mice out of the basement. Next week I will purchase the wood and start building shelving units in the basement. My plan is to clean up all the mouse droppings, Bleach and sanitize the walls to stop the mouse trails and make it safe from those mouse carried diseases and have all food items stored in long term containers that are vermin proof. The last requirement of the shelving is it will accommodate traps or spraying for bugs long term. While I may have slacked off the last 6 months on storage. My long-term food supply is very safe in 55 gallon metal drums.
Plants for the garden.
As you can see I have a flat of Marigolds and several starer plants for the garden.
As you can see the pepper plants between the cages took quite a beating and look a bit sad. I have starts to replace the peppers and my deep 4 ft.x 4ft raised bed is for any plants that have no planned spot. You can see the Black garden fence. Well it has not worked for stopping the small digger dogs. What has worked is those fold flat tomato cages hooked to the chain linked fence and covers the small beds.
First wall of the new compost pile wall is built. My carpentry skills are rudimentary at best, but as I build stuff I learn more about carpentry and how to make what I want in my mind happen in reality. This the first wall of my compost pile and I can hide my screw ups against the chicken area. I learned a lot just putting together this first wall. Overall I think this new compost bin idea will work long term and I’m also learning about how to work with different types of lumber and how to use those product around the yard.
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The image on the left is the new wall of the compost pile. The image on right is the my pathetic attempt of making a compost bin out of pallets that was less than successful. There is nothing wrong with screwing up by the numbers if it does not cost you. I learned the wrong way to use pallets to make a cheap compost pile. Trust me I went very cheap and I did not know how to make anything plus I lacked the proper tools to make pallets work. There is nothing wrong with using pallets to build a compost pile. I just gave a pic of my screwed up compost pile to show that without knowledge and skills, half-assing stuff will probably end up costing you more money time and energy is the likely outcome. I don’t have a lot of “extra” money to invest in stuff. I really don’t have a lot of personal energy/strength to invest in screwing up. So getting stuff right or at least learning how to get stuff built right is critical.
I’m still not sure on how the compost pile will turn out, though I have enough lumber to build a 2 bin system. At this time the built wall will be on left side as well. I will have a divider section and a pressure treated built back wall. I’m spending some dollars to build “my” compost system. Can you do a compost system cheaper? Of course you can build one of those. I’m no longer worried about cheap I’m worried about a working system for me. I can afford to look beyond cheap and look at making stuff easy.
May 16, 2017
My peppers got frost nipped and just for extra fun, they got pummeled by hail today. I added some protection after the storm started but I think the peppers are probably toast. The weathermen are for casting possible snow here in the valley. Not unheard of too me but Spring time in Idaho is a bit more “eclectic” than I prefer. We are good here at Casa de Chaos as we are late planting many “starter plants”. The cabbages and cole crops survived the cold/hail. I also planted the plants in a “protected” place in the front yard. Just a small garden planting set back at this time. Springtime in Idaho!
I bought the lumber for the new compost pile. I’m using pressure treated 4×4 posts at the corners. 2×4 pressure treated boards to tie the pile together and cedar wood fencing to cover/contain the compost. I’ll have to layout and tweak the plan over the next week. I’m not just trying to make my garden “pretty”. Every element must have a use to make the garden better in the long run.
I have most of the materials for building a compost mound/heap. I want it to be semi-attractive as well as a good compost pile that is somewhat easy to work. Good construction makes life easier in the long run.
I really dropped the ball on my basement storage. The mice are berserk and all of it is because I did not store foods properly in containers. So Mom and I are trying out a few different items to get rid of mice and I’m looking to build proper shelves to fight the vermin problem. So we will see how it works out. I’m not getting all “butt hurt” just because I “screwed the pooch” this time. prepping and getting self-sufficient is a journey and not about one screw up.
May 13, 2017
I’m still sort of tweaking the 3 sisters garden beds. I know what does not work from last year’s experiment. These beds are an adjustment and not necessarily the end result for the 3 sisters experiment. Via most web sites the corn and beans are suggested to have a mound of dirt above the squash plants. I can test this out on my beds though they are only 3 ft. x 3 ft. wide. I think adding a raised mound for the corn and beans is doable on a bed and then try a regular raised bed garden for the other beds. Growing plants has so many variables that there are no hard and fast rules. Each gardener must try out how thing work in the yard and garden. If it is stupid and it works it ain’t stupid!
Cedar boxes for the 3 sisters garden.
This is a bit of tweaking as corn, beans and squash did not do as well as I wanted in the big garden bed. My garden got overgrown and was not healthy so by separating the plants I hope to create a better garden. Those 3 beds cost about $80.00 in materials and I can afford that now. But I started out using reclaimed materials and going “cheap” to start a garden. Start small if you that is all you can do. Often the hardest thing to do is just start.
The front yard edible beds. I have a bit of work to do but over all the beds are looking darn good.
It may not look like much but I have lettuce, spinach and brussel sprouts growing.
I thought I got of the happy little cabbages in the front yard beds, but no luck finding them to post.
Simple and easy are not the same thing. Almost every thing life is simple, that does not mean it is easy. I’m not a homesteader and with my physical limitations I can not be one. But that does not mean I can’t try and do stuff around the house.
Gosh I have learned so much from making basic raised beds to chopping up my own kindling. We got slammed this winter so I’m prepping for a hard winter. The worst that can happen is I’m ready for a hard winter. The best that can happen is I’m very ready for a hard winter.
May 11, 2017
I got most of my chores done today. The big bed got weeded and a quick roto-till to loosen the soil for planting. Mom got the actual plants in the garden, Four sweet peppers, two types of egg plant and two types of cukes. Mom’s tall peppers she started back in March wilted a bit in the heat and transplant shock. Mom gave the peppers a good drink of water and we added the canvas tarps to keep off the direct sun and the peppers perked up after an hour or two. These light weight canvas painter tarps are great for protecting plants from a light frost or the heat of the sun, relatively inexpensive and great multi-taskers. SW Idaho has cooler weather coming in this weekend so we are going to keep “hardening” the melons, tomatoes and some of the smaller plants and plant on Monday.
I had a bit more work than I anticipated in the 3 sisters raised beds. Morning glory was bad even with the layers of mulch I added last fall. I used a garden rake to grab the weeds and pull aside the mulch. I dug up as much of the weeds as possible but these beds will need to be monitored and weeded often this year. I have to say the soil was looking much better after adding the wood mulch for the last two years. Not perfect so I added some garden soil and compost to augment the soil I tilled up for the raised beds. Using both my dirt and augmenting with bought garden soil seems to make make darn good vegetable garden soil. I don’t block off my raised garden beds from the ground because after one or two years I have not seen much difference in weed growth. I do see a big difference in veggie production when I include my dirt in the garden soil mix. I’m feeling positive the 3 ft. x 3 ft. garden bed is going to be easy to work with as far as weeding the beds are concerned. Especially since I left plenty of room for my garden cart and to walk around the beds. I have learned it is a lot easier to weed and work many small garden beds compared to caring for one large bed. Once I pull the mulch into place between the 3 sisters bed and do some cleanup I will post up some pics.
My back yard grass patch is still a bit spotty but where the grass is growing it has been growing great! Last year I laid out sod and it did okay but I think my soil prep was not great and the type of grass did not do well with a sun and shade mix. To correct the problem I’m going with a sun and shade mix that is drought tolerant and made for the local area. I’m adding compost and reseeding the grass this spring to try and fill in the patchy areas. I have reduced the part of my backyard that is dedicated to lawn because a good lawn takes a lot of work and resources but I also want some lawn around as it is cool in the summer and my little dogs love rolling around and playing in the grass.
I’m lucky, I have no CC&Rs where I live so I can have mulch pathways, a front yard garden with edibles. I can experiment with the alley way beds and learn how to kill out weeds naturally, without using roundup that kills everything including the soil. I have had better luck killing weeds by using mulch and augmenting the soil rather than resorting to “Chemical” warfare” against Mama nature. I’m not sure it is actually slower as last summer Mom and I dug up “goat heads” /puncture vine and I added wood ash, a killer mulch made of walnut leaves and a layer of wood mulch. For plants I have added Sunchokes and a few sedum plants to provide ground cover. Mom cleaned up the weeds, some thistle, “Cheat” grass and some Fox tails among others but NO! Goat heads at all were dug up. Not a bad result in just one growing season.