It looks like fall has fell on SW Idaho. Rain and it is cooling down this weekend.

September 29, 2017

We hit about 76 degrees F. here at Casa de Chaos today and this weekend we might see the low 60’s for a daytime high along with some rain.  So we got out a tarp to cover the mill ends/kindling.  The mill end wood area is well protected from wind and with the wood up on pallets I think the wood should stay dry.  I will be giving the “mill end guy” a call for another load.  I hope that wood  will be all the small stuff I need to start the wood stove for a quick hot fire and kindling for the winter.  One very nice thing is the guy gets a heck of a lot of mill ends in small Ranger pickup because he stacks it neatly.  What I have now is 2 full pallets of dry wood about 18-24 inches high.  IIRC a cord of wood is about 4 feet tall, 4 feet wide and 8 feet long stacked so 2 pallets should be close to the dimensions of 4 feet wide and about 8 feet long.  Now all I have to do is see how tall of a stack I can build up at $70.00 a delivery.  I have about a cord of dry wood left over from last winter but my wood guy is not returning my calls so I’m a little bit nervous about having enough wood for this winter.  Last but not least Mom is going to give me a hand cutting up the big chunks of wood with the chain saw and test out the new chains.  I don’t have a lot of wood to cut up and I hope the new chains will make the job go faster, safer and more easily.

I got stocked up on coffee this week.  Coffee has been on sale locally but I’m afraid it is because the stores are clearing out older stock and will offer smaller cans at a higher price.  Just a few years ago coffee got very expensive and even the smaller cans of coffee hit around $9.00- $10.00 per can. Thankfully I had coffee stored up and with buying  the sales (loss leaders) I did not pay that much for a can of coffee.  I have to add a few more cans to make sure I have a good stockpile on hand but that is easy this week as I have coupons!

I finally replaced the old blade on my lawn mower.  It was a bit difficult breaking the nut loose, nothing the rubber mallet applied to the wrench could not handle.  The blade worked out great on the lawn.  No problems with vibration/ blade unbalanced and the grass was cut cleanly compared to the older blade.  That gives me 2 blades once I practice sharpening up the old blade.  I want to be more pro-active about stocking up on parts and learning to sharpen all my cutting tools.  I can sharpen a knife and I’m learning how to sharpen an ax.  Now I just have to learn how to sharpen other tools and build an inventory of stones and files for those jobs.  Thank goodness for Youtube vids and the internet.  If you want to learn something there are hundreds of instructional vids to learn how to do a thing.  Remember there is always difference between theory and practice.  Watching a you tube video is Theory!  Doing it your self is practice and you will need lots of practice, or at least I need lots of practice learning a new skill.

I did not buy a TV or the retro Nintendo game system as the Nintendo sold out and I’m having a heck of a time finding a “dumb TV”.  I am a bit of a geek but I hate the idea of being spied upon even if it is passively via a corporation/government.  I have worked very hard to keep my PC/ wifi secure and I don’t want to add anything to my home that must “phone home” simply to work properly.

Rant incoming……

While it torks me I think many people that bought the NES system did so to resell on Ebay. I’m not going to pay a premium price just to get a game console early.   I’m a gamer, not a fool when it comes to money.  With any luck most people will be like me and won’t spend $300.00 to buy the console on Ebay when it sold for $80.00 and Nintendo says they will be shipping out more for the Holiday Season!


Work order for the housing job is done and wrote check for 1/2 of the costs. Also added some fire wood

September 26, 2017

This week the the last “critical measurements” will be made for both the siding and windows and then the work can begin on the siding and windows.   Gosh I can’t  tell you all how excited I’m to have properly fitted windows that don’t require almost a 1/2 inch of caulk just to close off the drafts in the winter.

The plan is the old siding will be striped off, the entire house will get a full wrap and the Styrofoam reinforced vinyl siding will be installed on top of that wrap.  All new windows and all wood framing will be wrapped in metal to stop all rot and keep with the Craftsman look.  I trust my contractor as his crew installed my roof in about 8 hours, the crew did great cleanup and my roof suffered no damage from the nasty winter of 2016.

Heads up if you are a coffee drinker you have about 2 weeks to stock up on coffee as the coffee growing regions suffered a significant drought.  I have seen the coffee prices sneaking up and the can size getting smaller so I’m stocking up now before the prices get higher.

Got some mill ends to burn for a good price. The gentleman that delivered the wood let me use my garden wagon and wheel barrow to off load the wood rather than just dumping it all on the ground.  I figure we got about a half a cord+ of good “kindling” wood for the stove.  I laid down two pallets and cleaned up some shrubs before delivery and used the pallets that Mom collected that I was so peeved about using around the house.  OOPS my bad!

I’m a bit peeved about my wood guy.  I gave him $250.00 cash this spring when his pickup blew an engine with  no wood delivery required at the time of payment until his truck was fixed.  I understand stuff happens when your primary way of making a living blows up in your face.  I don’t want to get pissy about things but I gave him cash to repair his truck in March and now I want a wood delivery in Sept.-Oct. and that is not happening.  Well it was a handshake sort of transaction and there is nothing I can do legally that won’t cost more than $250.00.   Gosh I like this guy and I don’t think I should be treated as a debt collector especially when I gave you cash to fix your truck and would wait for you to deliver wood.

It is a bit sad at Casa de Chaos as Toy the Peke passed.  He had a good run of 14+ years but he needed a bit of mercy/ help reaching that RAINBOW bridge.  Thank goodness for Jackson the terrier, Mom is moving on and not dwelling on Toy’s death.  It was a release for Toy to move on.   While Brodie and Tucker are my dogs they love getting affection from all they meet.

Okay I have added new fans,  a new section of kindling and working on a new concept of raised bed gardening.  Winter looks to be be brutal so get ready now!

Splitting wood and moving wood to the new racks.

September 24, 2017

I cleared the wood off the first wood racks I built and now I see why the my wood stayed wet.  The rack system I used did not elevate the wood off the concrete and the untreated boards acted like a sponge soaking up water into the racks bottom layer of wood.   To fix the issue I have been splitting those chunks of now dry wood as I have physical energy and moving the rest of the wood to the new pressure treated wood racks that have a solid  4″x 4″  worth of clearance above the concrete slab.  Making the new wood racks from pressure treated lumber is much cheaper compared to using the metal brackets and untreated 2 x 4’s and the racks seem to keep the wood out of the water and helps with drying the wood out.  One critical thing I need to do is build more wood racks and get a multi-year/season wood storage system figured out.  Dealing with wet wood because of poor wood rack construction or I did not stock up  on enough wood could be very problematic.

I’m splitting the last year’s wood and most of it was stuff that was knotty or had very twisted grains like elm that was too tough to split and use last year.  Perhaps I have learned how to split wood better or even twisty grained wood is easier to split when dry but I added another 18 gallon bucket of kindling to the front porch.  One thing I can say for sure is dry kindling and dry wood takes a lot less effort than the wet stuff!  Last but not least my Chimney sweep will clean the chimney on Oct. 9th and with a little luck she will add another section of pipe to the top of stack so the wood stove draws better and runs cleaner during wood heating season.  My chimney is to city code but that does not mean the wood stove burns at it’s best potential.  Another 2-3 foot pipe addition is an easy and fairly low cost fix to make the wood stove to run clean and efficient.

That is not all I have been doing I have been shopping and stocking up.  Today I went to Fred Meyer/ Kroger and stocked up on a few odds and ends.  I have my “Shoppers card” set up for digital coupons with no personal data but my email.  I know I can be tracked via that address but the PTBs will at least have to go through a couple of steps to track me.  My gosh Tissue paper has become very expensive and the rolls are getting smaller all the time.  So Mom and I are stocking up on that stuff whenever we can afford to get some extra TP.   Coffee is is getting very expensive and the cans are getting smaller all the time in the stores.  Albetrsons is having a sale and I need to add at least 5 cans of mid quality coffee to get the sale price.  Getting 3 pounds/48 oz of name brand ground coffee for $5.00- $6.00 is long  gone. Oh, you can still buy coffee for $5.00-$6.00 a can but it has only 24 oz. or a pound and and half  can of coffee.  Well such is life and I expected it but I really hate being right about this sort of thing.

Okay this is not about prepping but I want to buy a 40 inch LED non smart TV and the new/old Nintendo game system for $80.00 at the end of September.  Sort of a Birthday present to me for me October.   While I hate to get rid of my German bought digital CRT TV that is over 15 years old with a great picture.  The lower power costs of an LED is too enticing.  Plus I want to play Star Fox 2!


Siding work proposal/contract on the 21st and wood stove fired up.

September 20, 2017

My contractor is stopping by to get the work order all finished up and scheduled.  Needless to say I’m very excited to get the job started.  October is usually a good month to get outsides jobs done as it is cool and not damp for the construction guys.  Plus I want the old windows pulled and new windows installed when it is temperate rather than when it is cold.

Speaking of cold/damp weather.  Mom fired up the wood stove for the first time this season.  The kindling I cut up was dry and burned very clean.  One thing I noticed is dry wood seems to be much more controllable on temps compared to damp wood.  You need a big fire when you burn damp wood or you get very little heat from the stove and the wood is difficult to burn.  A small amount of dry wood burns clean, hot and is much easier to control compared to burning wet/damp wood.  So stocking up on wood and give it time to dry makes using wood heat much easier in the long run as you use less wood for the same amount of heat.

I am going to replace the 2×4 wood racks made with the $20.00 metal brackets with my simple pressure treated wood racks.  More work moving the wood on to new racks but all those racks will have dry wood.  All of the wood I get now will have a chance to dry and not be on concrete or soak up any water.  I got new chainsaw chains for both my small B&D 8 inch (Oregon 34) and the electric McCullough (Oregon 49) chains via True Value hardware store.   While I have not used either saw yet cutting wood, they both seem to sound better when running them. I want to add another chain each and the proper sharpening files for each so I can practice sharpening each saw’s chain.  Sharp cutting tools tend to be safer to use compared to dull cutting tools.  I have to say that my splitting ax is doing a much better job since I sharpened it and seems less prone to burying into wood rather than cutting through it.  I’m still learning how to sharpen an ax but I think I’m getting the hang of how to do the job.   The 6 pound maul needs a stone but it will take a different method of moving the sharpening stone rather than moving the blade.

I’m still prepping as coffee went on sale at Albertsons this week.  I’m good with the basic MJB, Yuban or even a good store brand of ground roast coffee.  I use coffee faster than the time needed for it to go bad.  I want to get some green coffee beans and roast my own eventually  but at this time that is not something I have to do as long as I can store and use store bought coffee within 12-24 months.  Remember if you are prepping for a year and stuff last for a year and you rotate you are good stocking up stuff for a year!

All of us in the northern section of the USA know winter is coming and now is the time to stock up!  Overall I think I’m in good shape but I need another propane tank and a powerful burner to melt ice and snow.  I think we will have another hard winter in SW Idaho.  I’m planning for the worst and hoping for the best.

The loan is done and the work will begin about the first of October!

September 16, 2017

I might have been less than charitable to the VA inspector.  For the second inspection he was great! Much more interactive and personable over the phone when we set up the re-inspection.  I suspect he was happy I did the work to pass rather than, me getting all “Butt hurt” that I failed the first inspection.  Anyone that has been in the military knows that inspections are not about doing the right thing but “checking the block” to look good on paper for the PTBs.

My contractor has a roof  job scheduled for this week but will get me scheduled for the end of this month or the first part of October!  Gosh, new windows for the house will be great for saving money on heating and cooling in the future.  I’m very excited to get the job started and I’m keeping about 10-15% cash on hand for the job in case some thing goes wrong.  I won’t say something will go wrong but with an older home it is possible that things will need replaced that a good contractor did not for see on the job.  I want the job completed before the end of October so I’ll have some cash on hand to ensure the job can be done on time.

Mom and I stopped by one of the local LDS churches had a “prepper fair”  with an awesome Geodesic dome tent set up.  Very impressive tent set up with all the structural bars color coded and with a set up of a small wood stove. The big 24 foot tent was very spacious and freaking hot with the small wood camp stove running and open vet panel and 2 “doors” open .  While I don’t think it is my thing, I could see this tent as a good place to live while you built a homestead. Supposedly the tent will go up within 2 hours with just two guys working.  I should have asked if they guys set up the dome in 25-30 mph winds that happened on Friday the 15th?  I missed asking that question.

Had some great conversations with people about small Battery banks and solar energy chargers.  One presenter admitted she was not up to date on small solar panels and small battery banks though she had heard about them on the Internet.  So I brought in my small Ravpower battery bank that can jump a V-8 and jumps a Kia mini-van with no worries at all.  My gosh I never have been so popular!

I have a problem that I think all people think as I do and they don’t.  I get a small fold-able 15 watt solar panel for under $50.00 or a small battery and think it is no big deal.  It is a big deal for people who want backups for even a little power.

A couple of years ago a fold able 15 watt solar panel was unthinkable and now you can buy one for about $50 bucks. The future is about battery power and how you can power your batteries. You won’t power everything but you can power enough to be semi-comfortable.

Oh, we discussed water storage and  I have shared the Igloo storage system of hot/cold water.  I think a Water Bob is a great water storage system for disaster.  But if each family member could fill a 5 gallon igloo with either hot or cold water before the disaster hit and then fill the Water Bob in the tub.  You would have a lot more potable water to start of your disaster preps.  Trust me using an Igloo cooler in the kitchen or bath is much easier than pumping water out of a water bob.  Fill all the food safe container first and then worry about  getting “bottled water”.

Focus on what you need and remember need does not mean the “basics”.  The basics may mean basic survival or some comfort is doable.  All you need to do is get inventive and decide what you can do without.  Trust me there will be times you will go without.


Ow! My gosh I hurt from cutting a bit of kindling.

September 14, 2017

Muscle soreness is most of it but the weather has taken a turn towards fall and is getting cooler. In fact the weather guys are claiming snow will fall in the hills around the Treasure valley.  I like the weather around here as we usually have a long hot summer but I remember the place I grew up in northen Idaho with only 3 seasons. July, August and winter!  I suspect the weather has cycled back to the late 70’s/early 80’s again and we need to prep for both colder and more snowy winters.  So September and October will be months to get prepared for winter.  My hope is to get the contractor to work in 50-60 degree F. weather and not much rain to deal with during the job.

I have another load of wood coming this week but I want to split  and cut up the leftover wood.  Replacing the chain on the little Black & Decker chainsaw made a heck of a difference on cutting up the small chunks of wood.  So I’m excited to see how much difference the electric chainsaw replacement will make on cutting wood.   I have seen YouTube vids about using a dull axe is a good thing.  I disagree as I cut wood and with a sharp axe I “bury” axe in my cutting stump rather suffer a glancing blow to my legs.  Now there a lot of ways to cut effectively and most depend on using sharp tools.   If you like using a dull axe or sharp chain saws well you be you because I don’t care.  I think sharp tools are safer be it a knife in the kitchen or an axe cutting chunks of  wood.

I have a plan to cut up the over sized wood that should be fairly safe.  I’ll just set up a couple of 2x4s to brace the wood I’m cutting and have a spotter just in case I screw up.  Life is risky and all you can do is mitigate that risk.  If you want to play it safe you will never do anything for your self.

Humans have lived in Texas and Florida for 1000 + years and they thought the risks were worth the rewards.  We aren’t all that different from our ancestors.  Here locally a culvert flooded a subdivision and the local government tried to pass the buck of responsibility.  Those 22 homes are still flooded and trashed.  Those people are still living tents and camp trailers.  They will get no disaster relief but is their pain any less real?

I’m not trying to virtue signal or play the victim for these people.  Life is messy and you should try to go local to support your community.   Also I’d rather walk on my lips than say anything good about a democrat but I think the Houston Mayor made a great decision on keeping all “Mandatory Evacuations” to a minimum.

That is my little rant If you have a different perspective please comment.

VA reinspection done, added another pressure treated wood rack

September 11, 2017

I have a good feeling about the reinspection as the VA guy took only basic photos to show paint work that was done and did not go all “anal retentive” about looking for paint chips or doing a close inspection of the “problem areas” paint job.   Hopefully I will get back a good inspection report in a week or two and then the loan will be approved soon after that report.  I want to get started on all the work by the end of September first part of October during so the contrator has good weather to do the work.

Finished up a new pressure treated wood rack.  Now I have  wood racks that will hold about a cord and half of wood above the concrete.  Those racks should help keep my firewood dry, especially if we don’t get 18 + inches of  standing snow and runoff melt.  My wood guy will be delivering a load of wood this next week and it will be great to have racks all filled up and have a system in place for the wood to dry.   I have some leftover fire wood from last year that is very dry, so I’m restacking the wood, cutting some of the big chunks to stove length and trying to get ahead on the needed “kindling” for winter.  My splitting axe is sharpened up but the new 6 pound splitting maul needs a little sharpening as it bounced off a couple of knotty logs.  I know that some people will disagree with me but I think all cutting tools should be as sharp as possible, not just good enough to get the job done.  I’d rather bury my axe in my cutting stump, rather than have the axe glance off and hit my leg.

I’m still learnining to use the Splitting maul but it works great on those job when you need a bigger hammer!  I know 6 pounds does not seem like much but that is about as much as I can do to swing that maul to get the job done.

I bouught a snow blower in order to deal with a heavy snow.  With any luck, getting the snow blower will mean I will not need to use a snow blower this year.  I’m adding  more sand, salt  and a propane torch (melt ice)  to get ready for a hard winter like last year.  Much better to have stuff ready and not need it rather than need stuff and not have it on hand.  I think we are facing another snowy and cold winter here in SW Idaho.  My planning is based for the worst winter this year compared to last year.

FYI: Don’t buy cheap LED bulbs.  I have had 3 “cheap “bulbs  fail in less than a year.  What scares me is the LED bulbs cracked at the base and might pose a fire hazard.  Spend the extra money and buy LED bulbs from a solid company.


I think that is about all I have for this week.  With a bit Of luck in a couple of weeks I’lll have new pics of the siding and replacing windows project.

A little perspective, I hope!

September 7, 2017

Carpets cleaned with new Hoover Carpet cleaner.

September 7, 2017

The Bissel cleaner has been placed on the patio and I’m done using it!  I don’t think it is a terrible carpet cleaner for low pile carpet with minimal shedding pets.  I have a deep pile carpet and a bunch of shedding pets. So I got a Hoover carpet cleaner on sale at Home depot for $98.00 and tried it out on the carpets I cleaned with the Bissel.

The first thing is the Hoover cleaner is much lighter without feeling flimsy. With my disability, lighter is better as long as the equipment gets the job done.  Also the cleaner was very easy to assemble out of the box with only 2 screws needed to attach the handle.  The plug for the clean water tank also has a measuring cap for the carpet cleaner soap which is nice feature compared to saving the Bissel soap measure cap. Separate clean and dirty water tanks makes this carpet cleaner nicer to use.   The Hoover seems to use more water to clean the carpet but the rug is not saturated and dries within 1-2  hours.  So the dry time is about the same and I might give the Hoover cleaner a bit of edge on drying time.

Cleanup of the Hoover:  OMG there is no comparison of the ease of cleanup for the Hoover compared to the Bissel.  I love the little rotating brushes compared the the “beater bar” of the Bissel.  The rotating brushes just “ball” up pet hair while the beater brush simply spins the hair around the bar that needs to be cut via scissors.   Everything on the Hoover makes clean up simple.  One tank for clean water. One tank for dirty water and no nooks or crevices to try and get clean.  Just dump the dirty water give the tank a rince and you are good to go!  Did I mention you can easily pull the rotating brushes and clean/rinse the brushes in the sink?  Like the Bissel,  the Hoover has a similar suck up section.  A pipe cleaner will dislodge pet hair from the little plastic protrutions both machines have on that part of the machines.

I cleaned my carpets about a week ago using the Bissel clearer and it was a major effort from getting the machine working on a med. pile carpet to a bit of low pile carpet. Using the Hoover I got actual sludge in the bottom of the dirty water tank and I got rid of the urine odor in the living room today and the dirty water tank looked very black so the bissel did not do a very good job on the carpets.  It is not perfect, yet I have to say walking in bare feet across the carpets now feels wonderful.  Both of my carpets have reverted to a different color as being brighter and more vibrant than when the carpets were dirty and I’m getting rid of the urine odor.  The pets seemed a bit confused by the clean carpet and are now going outside, rather than peeing in their “living room” tinkle spots.  Its early days but I think this Hoover is a better choice than than the more complicated Bissel.

I found replacement chainsaw chains.  The Oregon T34 I beleive it is called will work on the 18 volt B&D 8 inch chainsaw as a replacement.  My goodness having a semi-sharp chainsaw chain makes cutting wood a lot easier!  Who’d a thunk it?   I need to get a files to sharpen the chainsaw chains and learn to sharpen axes for cutting fire wood.  I think a dull axe is about as useful as a dull knife.


Demo and clean up of the woodpile area. Garden harvest and clean up done by Mom.

September 5, 2017

I got started taking down the rotted roof  that is over my woodpile.  I’m about 50% complete on the job as I  demo’ed the worst of rotted and warp boards first and now I’m moving my wood/ wood racks out of the way to finish up the demo of the last parts of the roof. My new wood racks made of pressure treated lumber seem to work great for getting the wood about 5-6 inches off the concrete slab and I’m going to use tarps to cover the wood this winter.  So far, I prefer the wood racks I made with pressure treated lumber compared the racks I made with the $20.00 metal brackets and regular 2 x 4s. Using the  4 x 4 pressure treated lumber as a base and then 2 x 4 on top of them gets the wood higher off the concrete compared with using the metal brackets plus the pressured treated wood racks are cheaper over all compared to metal bracket wood racks even with using more expensive pressure treated wood.  My wood racks are 18 inch x 4 ft. by 8 ft. and I believe that is what is called a “Face” cord of wood and not a “true” cord of wood which is 4 ft. wide x 4 ft. high and  8 ft. long.  I really like having a hard/soft wood mix for my wood stove and out here in the west usually means a mix of pine/fir and fruit woods like apple and cherry.   I got a my wood guy delivering a cord or so of some pine/ fir mix next week so now I can make some kindling for the stove.  I’m finishing up the last of the elm and while elm burns great it is difficult to split as the grain twists which makes it terrible for ax cut kindling.  For our kindling this year Mom and I want to get a load of actual “mill ends” and not “box wood” that I got to start this firewood adventure.  I got a small 6 pound splitting maul for those tougher chunks of wood, but I’ll have to re-learn how to use that tool.  So far the light weight ax has done a great job for making kindling.

I finally got to use the Ryobi impact hammer drill and my gosh I love it!  Okay it is a battery powered drill so I did not expect a lot but it did a great job on removing screws my basic drill could not remove and it was great on driving in screws that defeated my basic 18 volt drill could not handle.  I don’t think it would be great for concrete but for working on any wood job I think this little Ryobi drill would handle working with Hardwoods fairly easily.  Also this drill extracted screws that defeated my basic drill.

Mom got busy and cleaned up the garden and did some harvesting.  Big thing Mom wanted was the “rubber mallet” to re position stakes in the garden.  Well I had the ” mallet” in the basement breaking apart shelves and the trying to pound in garden stakes with a 6 pound maul was less than successful.  We found the mallet eventually but I learned that bigger is not always better.  I’m  going to get a small 2 pound maul hammer and a good 1 pound claw hammer.  You have to make things work for the job given and  some times you need brute force and sometimes you have to go small.  Good news we did have success with cantaloupes this year.