We got one job finished! Calling in the exterminators.

June 27, 2017

I can officially state that the compost pile is complete and all off the materials have been moved into place and got a lot of water to get it building up some heat so it can break down the materials correctly.  I need to add in some more “browns” and will move a straw bale closer to the compost area to add to the pile easily.  Adding a straw layer should keep all unpleasant odors and bad bugs to a minimum.  I have to say I have not had a problem with odors even with the old Pallet compost pile.




Using a leaf blower on your compost heap. Air or at least oxygen makes the compost heap work better. While it might be a pain/ require effort adding air to your heap is a good thing and almost as critical as adding water, browns or greens.  When you turn over a pile you are adding air. There is no reason you can’t use a leaf blower to add a bit of air to the heap.  I think it is a lot easier to use a blower to turn the compost heap rather than turning it by a fork, if you can be effective.

Mom got to use the weed wacker today along with a block of instruction. She knocked down the alley way weeds and I’m getting a lot of mulch on sale.  That thick layer of mulch should help keep the weeds under control as some puncture vine/goat heads are trying to creep into the beds.  The Sunchokes and sedums have done a good job as “good plants” that choke out the weeds but  I need to spread them along with more mulch out in the alley beds.  So far both plants have not spread but have just got thicker and bunched up.   The best way I think to explain how the sunchokes spread is like Iris flowers.  Like Irises they need to be thinned and replanted.  I would recommend using sunchokes if you have a hot/sunny area with poor soil and limited water as a great plant to help choke out weeds plus the plant roots/rhizomes are edible.  My sedums have done okay in the alley way garden but now they are getting expensive to buy as they are very popular with zeroscape/ drought tolerant landscapes.

Mice and bug problem is beyond us and we are getting some info on having in some exterminators.  I’ve added more tincat metal traps and sprayed down the outside of the house and much of the inside with bug barrier and we are still losing ground in this battle.  I’m still gathering info and quotes for the job to get done in July but so far it looks like the cost will be about $200.00.  I think if we get the critters stopped from breeding more critters for a couple of months, Mom and I can maintain getting rid of the critters!

Sometimes you just get overwhelmed and must call in the specialists for a problem.  I don’t there is anything wrong in spending money for pros if you have done your best and failed to correct the the problem.  I have really learned how important it is to store everything in good containers.  None of my food barrels, buckets or bins have been breached so I did that part of food storage correctly.  I failed when I put something in the basement and did not store it properly right away.   Add in a tough winter and you get an explosion of problems.  I’m not saying you should not have traps, pesticides and other ways of preventing any infestation.  Right now you can call in the pros to help get your home vermin free. Maintenance is a lot cheaper than trying to get rid of an infestation.


The new compost pile frame is done

June 23, 2017

I really screwed up on one measurement, actually my math.  I transposed a number measuring but it was not a big deal as I just cut the lumber to size and fixed my screw up.  So I have slightly smaller compost bin and a slightly larger bin which might work out okay overall.   The smaller bin ( honestly it less than 12 inches difference from the original plan)  will be the daily added to pile and the larger bin will the mix station / pull compost area.  The fence brackets made putting the bins together much easier plus having the new Ryobi drill made very quick work of drilling in the screws.   At this time the compost walls are not as “rigid” as I anticipated but I can easily add more support lumber as needed in the future


The old compost pile walls.


The new compost pile walls


Much prettier than old compost pile pallet walls.

For this project I used pressure treated lumber as the basic framing and then cedar fencing boards to contain the the compost. My hope is the slats in the cedar fencing will allow plenty of air to the compost heap and discourage the bad bugs.  I learned a lot about basic construction though I did have a few fails during the process.  Theory is all well and good but after a certain point you must put theory into practice and learn from the mistakes you will make. Or at least the mistakes I make!

Don’t get me wrong you can build some great stuff using pallets.  I just did not know how to build stuff so I half assed  it and it showed!

Added in new plant to the corn beds.  I dropped the ball on planting heirloom corn this year so I planted some sweet corn in the new beds.   Mom loves sweet potato fries so we have added those plants to the new beds.  Will it work, I have no idea but if we get even a couple of pounds of sweet potatoes the plant is paid for and we will learn a new thing and that is priceless.



Excellent shopping day

June 21, 2017

I got a great tool bargain at Home depot.  Rather than buying the drill and getting a free tool instead I bought the 18 volt drill + impact driver set for $99.00 and got the 10% vet discount! So the price was only $89.10 for both tools.  I got a 5/8 in. sheet of plywood cut into 2×8 ft.sections for $25.00 and add in eight, 1×3 inch boards to start the basement shelf building project.  At this time I’m working to re-enforce and add new shelves to an existing frame work hence the smaller dimensional lumber.

One thing I noticed today is the cashier at Home depot was sort of defensive or tried to explained that the 10% discount did not apply to all items.  I’m a disabled vet and I love how some companies give a vet discount but no company is required to give a discount to vets.  No cashier needs to be attacked if a vet discount is not applied.  If you don’t like the policy, write a letter to corporate or rant on the internet but, leave the cashier alone.

Most or the replacement garden veggies were available for the replacement plants that did not do great from my starts.  I bought some sweet corn, celery and sweet potatoes that Mom wants to try growing.  No luck so far with finding tomitillo plants but I know from last year those plant start off slow and then explode with growth so I have not given up hope yet!  The worst thing that can happen is that raised bed lies fallow and I build up the soil so it is not a bad situation.

This may sound a bit strange but I am more interested in learning how to grow a garden rather than what food a garden can produce.  Many people that never had a garden think growing a good garden is easy.  It is not easy at all and requires a lot of effort.  For me any veggies I get is a bonus, my focus is on building up a sustainable garden out of my own resources.  Learning to work with my land and then improve it as much as possible before the need to grow a garden is upon us.

It is very easy for a government to mandate everyone must grow a garden,  (ala Venezuela) for food but we all know that just tossing out a few seeds and hope for the best is a terrible way to grow a  good garden.

Thursday and Mom does not have a master gardeners BS class to go to so the plan of attack is trim up and perhaps cut down the dead cherry tree and finish up building the stuff needed for the properly built compost pile.  My carpentry skills/knowledge are mediocre at best but I have built a few simple things and now I can build “larger” simple projects.  I can’t say you can succeed on trying new project.  I can guarantee if you never try doing anything new you will fail.


Effective puttering today. Plus tool shopping!

June 19, 2017

We hit 96 degrees F. today here at Casa de Chaos.  I know it’s crazy how we have high temps in the desert in June but what can you do?   What I did is buy a small 8000 BTU portable A/C unit for under $200.00.  This little unit has really made the whole house much more comfortable even when it does not cool down at night.  I’ll be checking out our electrical usage but so far this June has been cool and wet compared to last year.  I love having many small A/C units as I can control my energy use/ cooling and heating by room or what I can afford to spend on energy.  Having the ability to create on warm room in winter or a cool room in summer gives you a lot of flexibility as a prepper.

A small 2000-3000 watt generator can run a small A/C unit.  Powering up a whole house A/C unit requires a large generator and lots of fuel.  A plus to using a few small A/C units is they are very easy to replace cost wise and if one unit dies you still have some cooling.   The prepper mantra is all about redundancy.  No one failure exposes you to total failure of your system.

Ryobi sale at Home depot! This a great sale for me as I love my Ryobi mister fan and  compact drill that has been awesome to use while making my firewood boxes and new compost frame work.  The sale is a buy one 18 volt drill and get another tool free sale and I’m getting the hammer drill.  I would have liked getting the fan if it charged batteries when  connected to 110 volt power.  Nope the fan is an either connect to the grid or use the battery.  I would have liked the battery powered sprayer but that was not an optional free tool.   I love how Ryobi has made most cordless tools compatible via the 18 volt interchangeable batteries and all inclusive battery chargers.  I have several old drills,    the Makita  and Dewalt are both 9.6 volt battery powered.  I choose the compact 9.6 volt Ryobi first on jobs and it has no problem going though a total of 6 inches of pressure treated lumber.  Now give me an 18 volt version add in a charger an impact hammer type drill and 2 batteries for under $100.00 I’m gonna jump on that sale!

Last but not least I finally fixed the screen door hydraulics for closing  the door. Most screen doors have a Hydraulic piston to close the door and mine got ripped out during a wind storm a few years back.  My reaction with the screen door is a bit different than I expected.  Don’t get me wrong I love the new set up but I got used to closing my screen door.  It feels a bit strange to have the door resist a bit on opening an close itself even though that is what I wanted !

Added in the Mulch along the walkways.  That is the downside of mulch walkways, replacing the mulch.  Of course if you are replacing mulch that means the mulch is breaking down and adding good stuff to the soil. Which is why I chose to mulch my backyard paths.



More cleanup hints and tips

June 18, 2017

It seems that we have made some progress on the mouse problem in the basement.  Ironically we now have a bit of a problem of the mice moving into the main floor and into the closet and bedroom areas.   In a way this is good news as it means we are starting to affect the mouse problem in the basement, downside is we have the mice coming up to the main floor.   I’m trying out some strategies for attacking the problem in the living areas.

  1. A lot more sticky traps are being laid out in the living areas.  While sticky traps are not reusable they are much safer than Snap-traps to use if you have pets, children or if your hand strength is a bit “iffy” because of a handicap.
  2. Adding more of the Tomcat traps for closets bedrooms and perhaps the attic.  These are very safe and effective traps even if you use a bit of grain for bait.  I’m going to get a small Snack pack size peanut butter from the local dollar store to be the bait for the new traps.
  3. The “Pet safe” mouse pellets were a bust!  We found 1 mouse that might have died via the pellets.  I recommend you buy a Tom cat trap instead of wasting your money on a bag of those pellets.
  4. The Balsam oil sachets did help with the odors and seemed to start moving mice out of  the basement.  I think the Fresh Cab Rodent repellent sachets are worth a try for getting rid of rodents and maybe a good preventative to help keep mice away.

Cleanup multi-taskers:

  1. The Clorox urine spray seems to work equally well on all animal urine odors and cleanup.
  2. Washing down the basement walls/floor with a mild bleach solution  (10 parts water to 1 part bleach) seems to disrupt the mouse trails as well as sanitize.  Plus it really helps get rid of the urine odor on hard surfaces at a low cost.
  3. I dropped the ball on this but a disinfectant spray is a great thing to use before you start clean up.  I did not even think about giving the dirty area a good spray down before I started my cleanup.  I had few can of this Lysol type disinfectant spray but only added it to day on the basement cleanup.

Things done this week:

I got the lawn mowed and added about 8 bags of mulch to the backyard walk areas.  Mom weeded the garden and got the grape vines cut back from the 3 sisters garden.

Re-organized a cabinet and sprayed down some bug barrier spray in the kitchen.

Plan for this week:

  • Get a Ryobi impact driver tool and perhaps fan that is rechargeable.
  • Finish up the compost bin walls and cut down a dead cherry tree.
  • Get wood delivered, stacked and covered so it can dry.
  • Finish cleaning up the basement food storage area.
  • Buy plywood for shelves in the basement buy paint to protect the wood shelves.

Gosh that is plenty to get done for a week.  Mom is focusing on getting her “community service hours” for her Master Gardeners class, so I’m going to be doing many jobs myself.  Don’t worry I’ll only start cutting the tree when I have Mom as backup.

I’ve been prepping for almost a decade and I still think of myself as a newbie to prep because I still make mistakes.  Mistakes are how I have learned on my little adventure.   Remember there is a very good chance you will screw up while you are learning and that is a good thing!  I really “SCREWED THE POOCH” on my basement storage.  No drama needed, I am just trying to correct my screw ups.  Learn from my mistakes and save time, effort and money on your prepping adventure.

Tools and stuff I using for cleanup. Another cheap solar solution

June 12, 2017

This winter I bought a large 5 gallon shop vac for dealing with the flooding in my shop.  With the addition of some bags and some brush tools the vac works great for getting up the mouse droppings, plus we don’t have to worry about the dust or spreading anything via the shop vac exhaust.  I have a small 1.5 gallon Shop vac that has worked out great cleaning the laundry area and closets where the big shop vac is difficult to maneuver around in tight quarters.  My only complaint about the Shop vacs is the power cords are too short and I have to use an extension cord for almost every job. I don’t think using your regular vacuum to clean up a vermin infestation is a good idea.  Save that house vacuum for your everyday cleaning chores and get a cheap shop vac for around $20.00-$60.00 depending on the size and features.

Cleaning off the existing shelves I have been using a “Shop brush” ($2.00 Harbor Freight) and an oversized dust pan ($1.00) Dollar Tree.  These tools work great for cleaning  shelves that have open areas between the slats.  You can place some newspaper below the shelf and just sweep everything onto the paper or into the oversized dust pan.   I am looking into building some of my shelves with smaller 1×2 or 1×3 and painting all shelves with a semi-gloss paint so they will not absorb odors and will be easy to clean in the future.

Cleaning solutions:  The Clorox urine remover is working out great! I bought a spray bottle to try it out ($5.00 Lowe’s)  but I will be buying the large jug ($13.00 Lowe’s) for my cleaning supply.  What I like most is this cleaner works on all surfaces and has not bleached or discolored my furniture or carpets.  I’m using a mild bleach solution to clean the cement/concrete wall of my basement area. The mice don’t seem to care for bleach solution or it disrupts the scent pathways they establish.   Mom and I are cleaning the buckets with the mild bleach solution and so far we have not found any mouse dropping on those cleaned buckets.  The basement is smelling better overall and in the area we have cleaned still smells clean after 5 days.

Traps:  Tom, I have added one of those Victor Tin cat traps in the basement and using a bit of grain rather than peanut butter as bait. In the last four days we have caught 10 adult mice.  I’m using a lot of sticky traps in the house as Snap traps are difficult for me to set and use.  Heck even the local Dollar store has those sticky traps though it may take laying out the traps in groups of 2 or 3  traps to catch the mice, they do work.  One thing I have learned about sticky traps the more surface area the trap has the better it works for catching mice.   Over all I think the Tomcat metal re-usable traps are a better solution for a prepper.  I think adding sticky traps when you find them on sale are great and should be added to preps.

Last but not least clean up item, construction grade trash bags.  These bags have a heavy mil of 2-6 depending on on what you buy and are great multi-taskers.  This last winter we did not have trash pickup for over 6 weeks.   I do have a bit of an advantage with the wood stove to burn most paper trash.  While I had extra cans on hand for trash I was ready with those super thick bags to hold trash. I live in a small city and if my neighbors don’t contain trash properly the vermin will affect me and not just them.

Okay now the fun shopping stuff for the day.  I bought a small under counter LED light that runs on rechargeable batteries for $20.00 at Home Depot.  What is great,  is the light is recharged via a USB cable and all of my power packs and my fold able 15 watt solar panel has USB connection for power.  This a great way for me to start a solar powered light system for the kitchen via a solar panel/ power pack but still can be recharged via the electric company’s outlets.  No direct wiring is need to install  this little LED lamp. You don’t need a large solar array to take advantage of solar energy.  A small solar panel system that charges a small battery bank can be a great start.   I have a small power pack that that can jump a dead car battery though I have not tested it for charging via my little solar panel.  As soon as the sun comes out in SW Idaho I will test it out.

I forgot I’m adding a bug barrier insecticide as we clean the basement.  I’m not sure how the insecticide is working but I do have a great system of battery powered pump sprayer now. I think it is helping but it is early days of testing.



Stopped the dogs pissing contest?

June 10, 2017

I got out the carpet cleaner and cleaned the living room rug and used the upholstery attachments to scrub the lower part of the furniture.  I used Clorox brand urine remover for stains and odors to pre-treat the furniture and rug areas that were involved in the “pissing contest” and then used the Bissell pet odor control type carpet shampoo.

Over all I like the Clorox cleaner as it does not try to cover up the pet smells with fragrance.  The Clorox cleaner also seems quite effective eliminating the mouse urine and poo smell in the basement cleanup.  I also like the fact that the Clorox Urine Remover seems to be equally effective on both hard and fabric surfaces. My rugs nor my furniture had any problem with bleaching or the running of colors using this product.  I also rearranged the furniture and that seems to have stopped the primary pissing spot for the dogs despite the fact I need to do another rug and furniture cleaning to get rid of the odors that my human nose can pick up.   I need to follow-up with the rug and furniture cleaning to stop odors but I think I have made a darn good start of the living room being used as the dogs pissing contest arena.

Onto the laundry area cleanup and it seems to have worked out great!  While I have a bit of extra space to move both the washer and dryer, cleaning under those appliances presents a bit of a challenge.  I used the small shop vac to clean up the mouse poo and then the Clorox urine stain remover on the linoleum to clean up the mousy mess.  Last but not least I used a disinfecting spray on the walls.  OMG it worked out great for killing all the bad odors in about 12 hours!  I’m not sure why the lag time happened on getting rid of odors but I’m glad my clean up worked!  I think a disinfecting spray (Lysol or generic equal) is a good addition to your preps.  I laid out a whole bunch of sticky traps in the laundry area to try to eliminate more mice.

While early days I don’t think there is no one solution to a vermin problem be it bugs or mice.  Good storage procedures is probably the best 1st step but you will still have random vermin problems and that’s where reusable traps are huge help dealing with vermin.  A mild sanitizing solution of bleach used on hard surfaces seems to disrupt both insect and mouse trails.  As per Lee Anne’s worry no buckets, bins or barrels have been breached.  I did have one busted water jug but that looks like human clumsiness/error not mice.

Mom cleaned out her closet and it seems the mice did find some nesting areas but I think Mom’s cleaning efforts let the mice know that nesting area is now shut down.  In a way we are shutting down food sources, water sources and nesting sources in the house that will no longer give mice a place to live in the house, chicken coop or the shop.  The mice are welcome to live in the great outdoors.

Tom, I will check out the Tomcat traps.  around here I have only seen the Tomcat plastic traps but I may not have noticed the metal traps.  Mom and I bought several metal traps that sound similar to the traps you describe.  Today I got 4 adult mice in the basement trap set for 24 hours.  I moved a dog food feeding area and some how lots of  dog kibble got transported close to the wall.   That is now cleaned up and we moved the doggie feeding area!  So far the best answer seems to be is eliminate food sources, set out traps and keeps stuff as clean as possible.  I do think Peppermint oil or Balsam sachet might help for preventing a mouse infestation but once you have mice you just have to clean and set out a lot of traps.

It’s not all bad, I have a lot of motivation to build all those storage shelves now!

My 3 sister garden has been over run by grape vines so seems to be a no go in the current area.  Note to self never start a garden close to grape vines.  In a way it is wonderful as the grape vines are putting out healthy growth.  A little less than conducive to my 3 sisters beds.

OMG the Cabbages and lettuce cole crop front beds look wonderful! It has not been all that hot and the arugula bed bolted already.  Well we can harvest seeds at worst.  I need to weed the cabbage beds that  look lovely and are growing great.

Gosh I understand how easy it is to get distracted as everything can become an emergency.  Mostley it is not an emergency!  Though some issues are critical. Cleaning my food storage area is a priority,  it is not an emergency!

Looking at the big picture can make a person freeze or lockup.  It’s simple,  pick a job and complete the job.  It’s simple it is just not easy.

Gosh I have rambled on a bit.  Mom and I going to build a garden tool bucket and blg about it.

More cleanup news and finishing a project.

June 8, 2017

We cleaned up the food buckets and barrels,  plus moved the buckets to the top of the barrels. I filled one large tote up with some food packages that could have become mouse food.  We found a cracked 5 gallon water container that got trashed.  Mom and I knocked down some cobwebs, so I sprayed the areas that were cleaned for bugs using a bug barrier insecticide. This job will take several days to accomplish because of out physical limitations as well as working in a limited space in my basement.  We are trying to clean, inventory and create new storage solutions all at the same time.

The large 5 gallon shop vac has worked out great for cleaning up the mouse poo but having a crevice tool and small brush tool is a great addition as most of the shop vac tools I have focus on water pickup.  The shop vac is so strong is the tool sucks up tight to the cement floor and does not pick up stuff like poo with the basic attachments.  I have a new brush attachment I will try out and give you a report on how it works for cleanup!

Ironically/annoyingly our clean up in the basement seems to be driving the mice and bugs up into the main house.  The worst areas seem to be my  laundry area and kitchen.  I got out my little shop vac and put the dryer on a small furniture cart so I could clean under the dryer.  I’m ashamed to say under the dryer and washer was very nasty.  I cleaned the area using the small shop vac and a couple of Clorox products I wanted to try out.  I cleaned the floor and I added a lot of sticky traps.

I wish I had a quick fix to give you that worked for me but so far it’s all about going back and correcting my “laziness”  on getting my preps stored correctly and making new shelves that are easy to clean and any infestation are dealt with quickly.  I’m getting a big reminder that preps are not a build and forget system!

We have a new critter here at Casa de Chaos and he is a young not neutered( not neutered by us,  because we still hope an owner might show up)  terrier.  Well at least 2 of the dogs are in a “pissing” contest and some of my furniture seems to be the arena for the doggie dominance contest.  Needless to say the odors have got a bit overpowering.  The dogs can go outside to do their thing so the next step was to eliminate the odor and move stuff around so marking territory in the house became irrelevant to the dogs.

So far I am trying a Clorox cleaner for cleaning urine smells on both hard and soft (fabric) surfaces.  I won’t say it is perfect dealing with a large odor problem but I give them props as they don’t try to mask the problem via pleasant aromas.  Cleaning the carpet because dogs don’t just pee on furniture they pee on rugs.  Before you tell me to rub a dog’s nose in the poo. Dogs know what poo smells like and is not the best educational deterrent for the dog.  My dogs a pretty smart!  They know I don’t want to see them peeing on the furniture.  The dogs are missing that I never want them peeing on the furniture at anytime.

Last but not least, smoker candles are the best for eliminated unpleasant odors.  Most aroma stuff tends to be some one “pissed a pine tree or farted a cinnamon roll” sort of solution.  Masking the smell is not a good solution.  Eliminating the the odor is the solution I am working on now.

Basement cleanup started!

June 6, 2017

The job of cleaning and organizing things properly has begun in the “Chaos” basement.   It started with a trip to Home depot to get some cleaning gloves, some thermal barrier to replace any funky mouse contaminated insulation and some 2×4 to start building some proper shelving for storage in the basement.  I picked up a Shop Vac filter bag to vacuum up the mouse poo and keep it contained.  Mice are darn dirty critters and so Mom and I are using a bleach solution that not only cleans but sanitizes.  Great news is all of my storage bins and buckets have not been compromised by the mice chewing into the plastic to get at food.  So my basic storage premise does work.  My problem is I did not properly store preps and I did not keep improving my systems of storage.  In a “nutshell”  my basic concept was great!  But I did not make it easy to use long term.

A report on the Haier portable A/C unit.  Overall I’m pleased withe the purchase based on the unit’s performance on wonky weather week.  I live in high desert and usually get cool evenings in the summer, so a box fan in the window can bring more cool night air.  That is not a slam on this unit just my situation at this time.

I do think this would make a great unit for most preppers compared to depending on Central A/C.  The fan is darn good and the compressor kicks in when it hits a set cooling point. This A/C unit will not cool your average home but it will cool a living room or large bedroom.  I live in the low humidity west but this unit also works as a dehumidifier and has a simple system that will notify you in case it has moisture build up. I think this is a good purchase and you can power this unit via a small generator in the 2000-3000 watt range.

My preps were built to survive first and thrive second.  Not getting dead because of stupidity/ignorance is also high on my list.  I can’t afford a BIG generator for my  home electric needs I can afford to go solar for lighting.  I can afford a small generator to do some electrical power off the grid.  I can afford to get a small fold-able solar panel set up and a couple of small battery back ups to have on hand.   Perfect?  NOPE!  just good enough to function.  I have several small A/C units and my overall electrical costs are lower compared to Central air,  and I have gained a lot of flexibility with where and when I cool.

Gosh I have “screwed the pooch” on not making sure my food preps were secure and now I have to work to rectify that mistake.  I was just lazy and had other things that seemed more critical at the time .  This stuff happens and golly it sure will happen if the SHTF!  So if you screw up just work to fix it!  My mice infestation hit a bit early but if the SHTF you will have to deal with those vermin.  Please learn from my mistakes during ” good times”.


I worked at Evergreen State college

June 4, 2017

Okay it was in the 90’s but I was told I could not deliver a cart of catered snacks to a Women of Color office because I was white.  I’m not white at best I’m beige or tan and I’m a women! Nope not allowed and Evergreen does not have grades at all!  If you are a moron and gained a supposed 50% of knowledge Evergreen considers you a success!   Business people you do not want to hire a an Evergreen College graduate.