Another wood rack complete, most of the fascia and soffets are done.

October 28, 2017

I got another 1/2 cord delivered via the Wood guy and it was mostly maple hard wood so I’m not unhappy about that delivery.  The next 1/2 cord is supposed to be red fir so that should give me a good mix of wood to burn this year.  I’m a bit maniacal about getting wood on hand after last winter as I was scrambling to buy wood late in the season (for me).  Now that I have built the new wood racks I’m not sure on how to gauge how much wood I have on hand compared to prior years.  Extra firewood on hand and drying is a good thing, not enough firewood is a very bad thing.

The new windows are already having a major impact on how we burn wood.  It is very noticeable on how the new windows help the house retain heat.  We can let the fire go out at night and the house is still warm in the morning.  It is so nice to see the house getting tighter and the wind can’t suck away the heat via bad windows.  Mom and I are having to re-learn how big of a fire to make in the wood stove but it is a good thing as we need less wood overall to warm the house.  With the new ceiling fans to move air, we don’t have such a problem of cold spots around the house.  Early days yet, testing the windows and stove but so far it seems very positive.

The work on the siding has started and the colors are a bit muted compared to my original house colors I still think it will look darn good overall.  Having the house wrapped and the additional insulation factor of the siding this house should darn tight and will look great for years to come!  No more painting of the house. Huzzah!

Shopped a local Holiday Bazaar and got another kerosene lamp and a very cute mug tree for coffee.  Mom snagged a very nice curtain rod and a pet door for her “future home” for $3.00.

There are a few things to clean up and get ready for winter but we have made a good start on those jobs.  Once the siding is completed we will post pics.  The before and after pics should be very significant.


Rebuilding the old wood racks and Siding starts on the 27th of October!

October 26, 2017

I heard from my wood guy and have a cord of Fir to be delivered Friday. So I rebuilt one of the original 2×4 wood racks to for the delivery.  This guy gives me at least a full cord perhaps a bit more so I need to build another rack and organize my wood splitting and cutting area.  He is bringing me a new wood splitting stump that is shorter, which should make cutting kindling less physical-energy intensive.  With one more delivery I will be much more positive about my wood energy situation.  While I have been scrambling for wood sort of late at least for me.  My total cost for getting wood will be lower compared to last year.  If you are curious the windows and ceiling fans have already made a difference on how we use the wood stove.  The additional stack added to the chimney pipe has helped a lot though part of firing up the stove is heating the pipe so it draws properly.  Both Mom and I are learning how to get the wood stove burning to start and using wood so we are not driven out of house because it gets too warm.

The Siding and stuff arrived today and is sitting in the alley ready for the install to get started tomorrow. Looks like a good weather forecast of cool temps (55-65 F. for highs) but mostly dry into next week for the installation.

I had a yard of drainage rock delivered. While the delivery guy did his best to place the rock I have to say spreading the rock around via a shovel and rake is a hard job.  Once the siding is gone from the alley I’ll have the same company deliver some “road mix” to my driveways. That should fill in all the gaps between the drainage rock and hopefully control some of the flooding due to snow melt to a minimum.  My driveway and shop are at a much lower elevation compared to most places along the alley so all I can do is start adding drainage on top of the clay soil.  Adding a lot of sand just makes a terrible sort of concrete.  I was surprised how much drain rock was need to fill in the low spots in the drive way.  I knew it was bad, I just did not know how bad the driveways were sloped.

It’s a bit crazy around here but overall we are finishing up our winter preps. The windows have already made an impact or how we heat with the wood stove.  Getting a great price on fire wood and most of the wood racks are built to keep the wood dry. By Friday the racks will be filled and tarped (covered) to keep dry.  Overall it was more of a late start ( than I preferred) but we are catching up with a quickness.


Almost 5 cords of wood ready for winter. New siding/ insulation starting Friday, a fire wood delivery of Fir for the wood stove.  The new windows are awesome!

Most windows in and it is quiet in the house

October 25, 2017

I had high hopes for the new windows helping with retaining heat in the winter or cold in the summer as I am trying to be as energy efficient as possible.   What I did not expect was how much “new windows” would insulate against noise.  Mom is very sensitive to noise but I sort of treated as a thing of living in a city.  Well noise is a part of city life, good windows really cuts down on the noise of city life.  There is one small window that will be replaced, Casa de Chaos is quiet.  I’m no longer hearing all the sirens from 5 blocks away nor the idiots at the 4 way stop and the bass thump a dump.

Ambient noise can wear down a person. While many people prefer to be stimulated constantly via noise of a radio/tv. I find the quiet rest full if a bit disconcerting this week. I supposed all those sounds kept my brain engaged at a low level but at best a sort of distraction.  I’m sure I’m explaining poorly but few people are no more ready for quiet than they are ready for a lack of city street lights.

I feel like the home is good solid but I feel like something I depended on has been snatched away in a good way but I still want those noise, I got used to having around.  If that makes any sense.  It’s a lot like shutting all the fans after installing the ceiling fans.  You don’t know how loud the fans are until you start turning them off.  I suppose it is like having an audio “cane” that kept you audio stimulated and then that cane was snatched away and you have hear the silence.  For myself it has been a an Awakening to quiet and listening to it.  It has been a little disconcerting getting used to the quiet but so far I like that I’m resetting my expectations. Overall not listening to the noisy-ness of the Outside world is good!

The folks that installed the windows were great sharing their knowledge on setting windows.  I learned a lot by asking simple questions and now I think Mom and I can add a window to the “Chicken house” that will be solid.   I’m no carpenter but adding the window should be simple if not easy.  All I need to do is cut one 2×4 to fit secure the window to said 2×4’s that I blocked out for the studs and then a simple plunge cut with the router.  I have the framing to hide all the screw ups of the simple cut out so we are good to go for that project.  I feared this project because I was so ignorant on putting in a window securely. Now I feel I can take a shot at the project.

Not a big job but I finally got the the Kitchen blinds hung correctly in the window frame.  Okay it wasn’t pretty but it wasn’t all that bad and the curtains hides all of my fixes.  No longer will raising the blinds in the kitchen entail a prayer and hope that the blind will spill into the sink.  It might seem like a small victory but life is filled with those small victories.


Fire wood racks completed

October 18, 2017

All of the pressure treated lumber has been tasked for the new wood racks and built for the wood delivery.  Now I will see if I get a true cord of wood or simply a “face” cord. My wood racks support about an 18 inch width, each section of wood rack will hold about a face cord or 1/2 cord of wood stacked.   I have plenty of 2 x 4s to stack wood if I get a true cord of wood.  Not the best solution but I have many 2x4s to make another wood rack if needed for stacking.   Great news on the electrical front the ceiling fans have helped cutting electrical costs this month.   This is helping with the wood heat but the new ceiling fans will make summer cooling cost much lower.

If you want to install a solar system you must make sure your home is insulated and do all you can to make sure the outside of your home is tight.  Honestly that usually means investing a lot of money fixing or replacing stuff around the house.  I took out a small home equity loan to do the work.  You might choose to pay down debt and then do the work.  There is no correct answer but what is right for you as long as you cover the basics.

I so want to get a battery snow blower but that is not in the budget.  So I’ll see how the snow blower works this year.  Gosh given an unlimited budget, you can do anything.  Us serfs must grab on hold and do our best.

The coffee can with some chain saw oil works dipping the small non-self oiling chainsaw.  Though you might not want to run the saw in the shop as the oil can splatter.  If you had to recommend an all round nail gun, what would you select? Be it a compressed air or battery powered?  I’l be doing basic work with 2×4’s and some 1/2 inch OSB/plywood.

Speaking of Harvey Wiensten. Don’t be a scuz bag.

October 16, 2017

Simple rule don’t get all rapey/sexual assault and stuff just because they can “get away with it for a time”  Women be truly brave and call out those assholes.  Learn welding so you are not beholden to those types of men.  There are a lot of great guys that will not require you to serve these types sexual predators.  If the man in your life won’t protect you then you must protect yourself.  Trust me carrying even a small 9mm can give you all sorts of confidence.

I was in the ARMY and no man thought a bought sexually harassing me. I had a gun and 50 big brothers that made that shit stop.

Window install starting soon…

October 16, 2017

Got a call from the contractor that the windows are now on hand ready to install, no later than  Monday the 23rd of October.  The Windows will be installed first (will take a couple of days)  and then the contractor can start on the siding project.  The weather here is okay about freezing at night but into the low 70’s during the day.  With the wood fireplace and a few space heaters Mom and I should stay plenty warm during the install.

More good news the fire wood guy that my Contractor recommend will deliver a cord of apple/cherry and then a cord of red fir for only  $ 160.00 per cord on Thursday the 19th.  That gives me time to build the basic fire wood boxes and measure the cord of wood delivered.  Two full cords of wood (4 ft. wide x 8 ft. long and 4 ft. tall)  is a lot of wood.  If it is just a “face” cord I will keep the order of Pine active and build more firewood storage! Apple and cherry are very nice burning hardwoods and Red/Douglass fir is about the best you can do for fire wood here in Idaho for a reasonable price.

Mom has been feeding some of the local alley cats that seem to be good “mousers”. The cats seem to like the new woodpile area.  I have the basement shelves built out of hollow core doors that might make a good cat box with just a little bit of blocking.  The area for the cats is fairly well protected from wind and dogs.  The cats have already adopted it as their space.  My cat Smokey seems to be good with the arrangement so far….

I started cleaning out the garden beds.  I tossed all the night shade plants in the wheelbarrow to be dumped and all the broccoli and cauliflower plants went to the chickens.  Tucker the peke (my digger dog) seemed a bit confused that we weren’t yelling at him for digging in the garden beds.  Tucker did not even try to dig up any of my Marigolds when given an open batch of dirt to dig in!  I suppose when your eye level is only 12 inches off the ground your perspective changes.

On to food prep I got a great buy on Pork chops.  Albertsons had them for $1.29 per pound this week.  So we have a good stockpile of frozen meats.  I still want to buy a small turkey in 10-13 pound rage but other than that we are good to go!

Lumber cost are up about 30% so far compared to July.

October 11, 2017

Lumber costs are going up and I talked to a cashier at Home Depot and she says the store is having trouble finding suppliers for lumber.  While I don’t like paying higher prices , the pressure treated boards I bought seem to be of better quality.  Much less warping and bows in the 2x4s overall.  Picking out lumber was much quicker compared to July 2017.  Of course fire wood racks don’t need the highest quality lumber but it is nice that paying a higher price also includes a better quality of lumber.

Speaking of Home Depot, I saw a story about many of our young people are clueless about how to use a tape measure for simple projects.  I can just imagine how Millennials are clueless about using basic power tools….   We have failed this generation!  If you know basic home economics or are a handyman this might be a great opportunity for a “side gig job” to help those kids around the house.  Honestly, Home Depot is putting out classes on how to mow a lawn!  While Idaho kid have not learned this level of helplessness. I know that young people have helped me out for the use of tools to jobs around their homes or apartments.  Many of these kids want to be self-reliant they just don’t know how to do it!  They see failure as a bad thing, rather than something to embrace as part of the learning process.  Learning what not to do is as important part of learning what to do in the future.

I’m learning that on the garden. I thought about adding fencing and a lot of other thing but what I need is a taller (18-24 inch) raised bed that is easy to easy to weed and is pet proof for my little digger dog.  Why build a fence when you could put that money into taller raise garden beds the critters can’t get into in the first place?  Plus taller beds are easier to weed, so it is a WIN/ WIN.

Thinking “outside the box” is a critical skill!  I think I’m pretty good at it, but even I have many moments of why didn’t I think of that….?  Also remember that if you always seek doing things perfectly you will never find that “good enough” quite often moves you forward to perfect.  Gosh if I always waited till things are “perfect” I’d never get anything done.  I can’t speak for others but I tend to learn best by failure.  So I seek out failure and then work my way towards perfection.

Coldest night of the season for cleaning the chimney.

October 9, 2017

It hit 28 degrees F. in Nampa last night but we had a frost warning so Mom and I covered the plants against frost.  Another frosty night is coming Thursday so I will be pulling the plants this weekend and get the garden cleanup started as the growing season seems to have come to an end.   I also got the chimney cleaned today so we did not use the wood stove for heating the house in the morning.    Instead we used a couple of electric space heaters just warm the house up.  I don’t care what anyone says, wood heat feels warmer than electric heat even if the temp. gauge reads the same temperature.  Perhaps it is a throw back to our cave man past.

The chimney sweeps got the stove cleaned and added another pipe section to the chimney stack that got well clear of the roof line and works around a large front yard tree.  The triple walled Stainless Steel stack sort of stands out on the roof but the wood stove is drawing much better compared to the “city code” approved stack.  It is a bit of over kill for the wood stove but I think the cost going beyond “city code” is worth it if it makes the wood stove burn cleaner and is safer.  After my last few chimney cleanings the “Sweeps” have told me that creosote build up has been minimal.  Adding the extra stack to make wood stove draw more air and keep the pipes clear of creosote is a good thing in my book.

We have burned a bit off poplar along with some elm and cherry today and  I’d say the poplar ash and wood smoke is comparable to burning elm.  Goodness knows burning an apple or cherry wood does smell much better in comparison.  I think I’m the only one on the block that relies primarily on wood heat and right now that is very noticeable.  In a couple of weeks my fire wood smoke smell will only be one among many.  I had someone come up to me while working in the front yard and tell me how they loved that wood smoke smell as it smelled like Fall.

Mom and I dug up the sweet potatoes and the first thing that happened is Tucker the Peke went into doggie rototiller mode and had to dig up that bed.   I don’t mind to much but his digging site selection but he tends to go after my Marigolds when given access to my garden area.  I’m working on a taller raised bed concept for next year that will be easier for me and will not require temporary fencing to keep the doggies from digging plants up.

Last but not least if you have nicotine stained walls and apply heat and lots of humidity those stains will start running down those walls.  I want to clean those walls but I can say after my high heat and high humidity experiment curing sweet potatoes  in a small bathroom as a bonus all nicotine smoking tar stains ran down the wall.   If you are cleaning a home of a smoker you might want to try enclosing the room, put in a small humidifier and a small electric heater for a couple of days before you wash the walls and paint with Kill-Z.  I’m not sure that will help with the smell but I can say it will make cleaning the dry walls much easier.

Trying out the chainsaw and the new chains. Curing Sweet Potatoes

October 7, 2017

I got a new B&D 20 volt 10 inch at a great price from Amazon.  I’d say it did a good job on cutting 3-4 inch in diameter logs though it took some muscle power to get through the thicker logs.  I got out the 14 inch electric McCollough with the new chain and Mom and I made short work of some of the logs in the 5-6 inch diameter range.  The extra power and self-oiling chain made cutting the larger chunks of wood much easier compared to the battery powered saws.  I still think the little battery powered saws are great for small cutting jobs and cleaning up the trees around the house but having the electric chain saw power is a huge help on the thicker logs.

The load of Poplar was delivered and I filled up most of my new pressure treated wood racks. I know poplar is not the best firewood,  but it was the best I could get on short notice.  My siding contractor has a friend that delivers both maple and cherry wood at a great price per cord.  Now I have an order for 2 cords of hardwood and that should fill up the wood storage area for the winter.  What I want to have on hand is a mix of soft woods that make a hot, fast fire and hard wood that will burn long and slow through the day/night.  Once the maple/cherry  is delivered I’ll decide, if I should cancel the pine fire wood order.  I don’t think canceling the firewood order will hurt the the people that are delivering the pine as I’m on a 1-2 month waiting list.

All of the ceiling fans are installed and gosh they look really good in the house!  Perhaps it is just me but when I add stuff to the house some times it does not seem to fit with the home.  The  new fans seem like they are in a place and they always belonged in the house.   One thing I did not anticipate is the house is much quieter after turning off all the other small fans.  Adding the ceiling fans and new lighting has made things much more flexible on adding both light and air circulation.  I suspect getting rid of all those small fans will also help on the electric costs for the house.

Mom and I dug up the Sweet potatoes today.  The potato roots were basically a tight ball  so I can see the roots need some room to spread out and a small square foot garden might not be the best choice for growing sweet potatoes.  Did you know that sweet potatoes need to cure once they are dug up?  I didn’t know that when I planted those plants!  The sweet potatoes need 4-10 days of 80 degrees F. and about 80% humidity to CURE or set the Sugars in the potatoes.  Needless to say SW Idaho does not usually have 80 degree heat or 80% humidity in October. What I have done for this is use my small bathroom shower stall. I placed a small electric heater and a small humidifier in the shower and the sweet potatoes in a dollar store laundry basket with a bit of paper to protect the taters.  I have read on the internet about people using a greenhouse to “cure the sweet potatoes” in low heat low humidity parts of the country.  Just a FYI for anyone thinking of growing sweet potatoes in the inter mountain west.   I also think a large mound of a dirt rather than a small raised bed would improve the yield.  We got at best about 8-10 med size sweet potatoes off of 2 of 4 plants planted in a small 4′ x 4′ foot raised bed.  Heck it was an experiment and I can say you can grow sweet potatoes in SW Idaho in small raised beds. But if you want a better yield you will want a deeper than 6-8 inch bed and place your plants further apart than 12 inches.

Last but not least we used the air compressor to blow out several fans and added a bit of  “silicon” spray to the motor parts .  Pulled both of the window A/C units and they will need blowing out and the “vanes” straighten for next summer.  Mom wanted to wash the windows and I asked why when they will be replaced in a couple of weeks.  Lots of changes happening here at Casa de Chaos and even we are playing catch up.

Next week will be about cleaning the garden beds and making new and taller beds to make our work load easier.  The up front costs will be higher but I’ll have all winter to gather supplies.   Now all I need to do is find a place to store those supplies over the winter.

Another small load of wood incoming the 6th of October.

October 5, 2017

I’m not sure of the size of the load but it is coming on a trailer rather than the pickup and the poplar was trees cut rather than the guy’s normal firewood business so I may get a good amount of wood that he just wants to get rid of around the house plus mitigate the cost of the “tree cutters”.  I have burned elm, box wood, mill ends so I doubt the poplar will be much dirtier in my chimney than some of the firewood I have burned.  Once the house gets new windows and siding along with new ceiling fans to move the air around projects are completed.  I suspect both my heating and cooling costs/requirements will become less expensive.  I can get away with burning a hot fire in the morning and another at night as my house is well insulated and with the new windows/siding install the house will get even more energy efficient.

With a little luck I can try out the new chainsaw blades cutting up the over sized wood from last years deliveries.  I doubt I’ll be able to cut logs to firewood stove lengths but I can cut small logs and split them given some time.

The “Hugger” 52 inch fan does have a low level motor hum. I’d say the noise level is about a small fan on low or a small window A/C unit.  Noticeable but not a deal breaker.  Ironically my cheap Hunter ceiling fan is whisper quiet. Then again the “hugger” fan has another 10 inches of blades for air circulation compared to the old Hunter fans.

Great news Turkey is now .79 cent per pound at Albertsons!  I am going shopping for a 10-13 pound bird to BBQ.   I’d like to get 4 birds in that range.  2 for holiday meals and 2 for next year as BBQ turkey tastes awesome.  I’ll see how the freezer space works out.

A big thing is coming up about “bump stocks”  and I see no reason to get one unless you want a very expensive noise maker.  If you shoot rifles you want a stable platform and trigger control!  A bump stock tosses out both trigger control and a stable shooting platform.  Is it fun? hell yeah, but it is not  good for putting bullets on targets.

Could I kill 50 people and wound 500 others in 10-20 minutes with 3 days to set up?  I think I could and I was just a Signal puke in the Army.  I have met and seen many great shooters that were never in the military.  I assume many people in that confined area were hit by ricochets. A 10% kill to wounded ratio is now uncommon if people can’t shoot back at the shooter.  A concealed handgun would not help you shooting over that range.  Some times the best answer is to run and hide.