New slippers and a sled

December 29, 2017

One thing nice about the end of the year is almost everything goes on sale.  I have been stocking up on small fans that are battery rechargeable via a USB port as that is a power port on my 15 watt solar panel.   The fans I have been getting are cheap but several of the fans move a lot of air for the power and size.  These little fans will be great to add to my Mr. Buddy Heater to move the heat around camping or in the RV.  I think using a small rechargeable power packs that can be recharged via solar is better than buying lots of small batteries.   A great thing about these fans having a USB port for charging is that I can use an small power bank and recharge via solar  or use a USB plug into an electrical socket or generator socket.  I picked a couple more solar powered blow up lights for $3.00 each.  The lights don’t have a red blinking  light the $10.00 models have but over all I think they will work out well for camping and storm prep. Now I can add the small solar light to my vehicle preps that is much safer than using candles.

I love a good pair of slippers as much as I love a good pair of gloves.  If you have sweaty feet  like I do you will need at least two pairs of slippers so one pair dries while you wear the other pair.  I was never one to go “bare foot” even in warm weather and dealing with CIDP I need my feet to stay warm so I feel warm.  On my snow-blowing adventure that I started in sneakers I found having warm water proof boots out side is a plus and having warm and dry slippers was even more important to warming up.  I have found if you can can keep your feet and hands warm you will feel warm.  While I have not put in place a switch winter boots to house slipper or “indoor” shoes I think it could help not tracking in dirt and stuff from the out doors.  That would save clean up time!

I got a small sled to haul wood to the front porch and not use the garden wagon in the snow. I bought 10 feet of line and added a piece of hose for grip so the rope won’t dig into your palm while hauling wood.

Mom looked at purchasing a wood stove and getting it installed and it is not cheap.  For a good efficient wood stove that will give yo at least a 6 hour burn time is energy efficient and safe you are looking at a cost of 4 grand if installing a wood stove from nothing.   Oh sure you can go with a cheap stove to start. But it pays long term to get the best stove you can buy even if the upfront costs seem a little steep. There are bonuses investing in a higher cost stove.

  • These are efficient stoves.
  • Most of the stoves have cool to touch sides.
  • These stoves don’t need to be stoked every 4 hours

While the back part of my house gets cold over night.  Cold means about 60  degrees F.  Pipes are not freezing and the dogs get snuggled  into pet beds.   Mom did not feel good today so she worked hard to makes sure her chicks were comfy.  I’m not going to complain as the chicks are keeping her in eggs.  I I need to look at a few dead heaters and see if they are fixable via attaching a wire along with a good clean out via air compressor.

Such is life, most things are simple.  That does not mean they are easy.

 

 

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Playing with the sno-blower

December 26, 2017

I have never used a sno-blower until this year and there seems to be a learning curve I did not anticipate.  I don’t think I setup the handle of the snow blower correctly though I followed the directions.  I’m about 5′ 6″ and I found myself hunching while using this blower.  The extension cord is a bit problematic as a thick 10 gauge extension cord does play out easily.  I still think the sno-blower was a good buy as it does a great job clearing snow once the “loose nut” behind the machine figures out how to use the machine.  While it was not pretty to watch me using the machine.  It was easy to cut snow paths over my bark paths without digging into the bark. Even cutting snow paths over grass was easy.

I suspected  that the rubberized blades will deal with the rock and wood paths better compared to a regular gas powered snow blower that is built to clear hard surfaces.  So far I’ll give the Sno-Joe electric snow blower a rating of 4 out of 5.  It is fast at removing snow once the operator learns how to work it properly.   I need to make a few adjustment to the machine but over all I think it was worth the $170.00 investment.  I’m not sure why it happens but it seems the more prepared you are for something the less likely that disaster happens.  Perhaps it because us humans “toss off” any disasters we are prepared for and get stupid when we are blindsided in a disaster.

I never heard of anything called “traction sand” but that stuff is the bomb!  It seems to be a very fine grain sand but it adds traction much better than most sands.  My tube D&B  sand is mostly about adding weight and that is good but if you want an alternative to salt for traction.  Buy “traction sand”.

I bought a little sled today so I can haul wood to the front porch.  While I used the snowblower to clear a path, using the garden wagon to haul wood can be problematic.  Hard work for those wheels to go through snow.   My ropes for clothes line drying  got snuffed with the vinyl siding so I’ll use those ropes on my sled.

I ask myself many time why?  I don’ try something outside my comfort zone. Oh I have gone through all the excuses of I’m not attractive or I’m disabled or I’m to poor to do it.

I’m somewhat prepared if things go sideways. I know my limitations but I can stretch to reach a new pinnacle  of what I can and can’t do daily.

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?”

 


Winter snow prep finished up

December 24, 2017

We are getting a couple of inches of snow and the temps are starting to drop at night into the low 10-20 degrees F.   Time to complete the last adjustments for winter.

The wood pile:  Moved a lot of very dry hardwood to the front porch wood rack.  I filled up the garden cart with dry hardwood and have one wood rack almost empty.  That empty rack will be stacked with the new pine wood from other racks which will let me get to to the old dry wood underneath the new pine fire wood.  It will take some extra effort to move the pine but having a mix of wood in the house and on the front porch rack makes the wood stove burn much better through out the day.

I think my biggest mistake on the pine wood was the assumption that a “kiln dried ” wood would stay dry and not suck up moisture from the air or from the ground.   As it has not turned off cold and dry yet this winter that pine really sucks up the moisture around it.  The kiln dried pine seems to be slowly drying out now.  As I move the pine to empty racks get at the older dried wood, the pine will be given time to dry out naturally and should be great for a hot fast fire next season.

The best things done this year for the wood pile was remove the leaky roof, build the simple wood racks and cover the wood with tarps.  The roof was rotting so it wood soak some of the dry wood and then all the wood around it soaked up the moisture.  Placing wood directly on concrete also allows wood to soak up moisture unless the concrete is sloped properly.  My concrete slab does not drain properly so I got wet wood last year.  With most of the leaky/rotted OSB roof removed the wood pile traps get southern sun and the space acts like a mini wind tunnel with the prevailing winds.  The wood pile still needs some work but I’m confident that heating the house this winter is very doable with the wood on hand.

Snow removal:  I sprinkled out a thick layer of snow melt today and the side walk in front yard and area stayed clear of ice build up.  Pre-treating your sidewalks with Ice melt makes shoveling snow easier as the Ice melt keeps the snow from bonding to the concrete.  We have had a couple of inches of snow fall on a couple of different days so no reason to test out the snow blower.  On the first snowfall my little battery powered leaf blower did a great job clearing the sidewalks.  For the backyard walkways I got the sand in a bucket (50 pounds of sand fits easily in a 5 gallon bucket)  I added a large cup to apply the sand along the side walks rock ways for traction.  I use sand as I did not find an Ice melt formula that did not hurt my dog’s paws.

All that is left to do is add a sand tube or two over the rear wheels of our vehicles for added weight and traction.  My Kia minivan has front wheel drive but those sand tubes seem to help keep the back tires on the road and keep the back end of the van from wanting to shift places with the front end.  I got Mom a little battery jumper pack and small air compressor to inflate tires for her Explorer for Xmas so she should be covered for any minor vehicle emergencies.  Also the little power pack can charge a cell phone, laptop and other devices.

I wish you all have a great holiday season with friends and family.


Woot! the splitting maul works!

December 22, 2017

I did not buy a traditional splitting wedge.  I bought one of those wedges that have a sharp point and a cross shape.   That shape makes this wedge very easy to start in the wood chunk but I don’t think it spits the wood as quickly as a traditional wedge.

I was a bit concerned when I got about 1/2  of the wedge buried in the chunk o wood and did not see any splitting cracks.  After a few more whacks with the 4 pound sledge hammer I started seeing the wood split.  This wedge never tried to break to the left or right if I did not hit it square with the 4 pound sledge hammer or the 6 pound splitting wedge. This wedge really buries it self into the wood before it splits the wood.  Good news the pine burns pretty good once it is dry or has a little help burning with the addition of hard wood.

I would recommend this type wedge along with a 4 pound sledge hammer or 6 pound splitting wedge to split a few big chunks of wood if you are disabled or not very strong.  It takes more time but not as much effort compared to using a regular maul and heavy duty sledge hammer but I can split larger chunks of wood.  A huge plus is I would not be able to burn those big chunks of wood unless I could split them into smaller sizes.

Mom and I did not do much in the way of Xmas lights this year because I did not want to drill into the new siding.  I picked up some hooks that are supposed to fit under the edge of the vinyl siding but my siding does not lift up and is to tightly installed to admit those hooks.  This is a good thing as the siding does not give the wind a way underneath to lift the siding off the house.  When Xmas stuff goes on sale I’ll add new lights and this summer I’ll get the clips that attach to gutters and along the roof line.

We are getting snow so we may have a “White Christmas”.  Mom bought a Ham for Xmas dinner. It’s strange  as I don’t have to cook Xmas dinner. I have a Prime Rib ready for New years eve and a couple of New York roasts to cook next year.  I can always find a special occasion to cook up a good roast or steak.  We got a little snow today but it is still somewhat warm and no freezing rain so that is good.  I put out a little ice melt on the front yard sidewalks to help with traction.  Other than that I’m not getting aggressive on snow removal.   Still early days but I suspect we won’t have a lot of snow or freezing rain this year.  If things go all sideways I can try out the new snow blower if not I can lay down sand to fill in the new driveways.   This is a win/win situation.

The house Mom wants to buy, got a lot of work done to get it appraised for her loan but it looks like it will early JAN. 2018 before the paperwork is done. The sellers installed a new tub faucets and shower/bathtub surround and a few other fixes.  A lot of people are working to get this house sold so I’m feeling very hopeful about the house.  Most of all Mom really likes this place.  She will have over an acre of land but still be in a small town and at most a 30 minute drive from my house.

Something to think about getting is USB powered devices.  I know why would you look up a fan or whatever to your PC USB ports as it seems silly.  Have you noticed how many items run on USB power connections?  Have you noticed how cheap those USB rechargeable battery packs are today.  Have you noticed how many small/ fold able solar panels charge up stuff via USB ports?  Heck most little solar panels or USB battery packs brag on how many times they can recharge an I phone or kindle/Android device.   I recommend you all start small and invest in a 10-15 watt  foldable solar panel cost about $50.00-60.00 USD and then buy USB power banks as cheaply as possible.  That will give you coms some light, possibly fans and a little bit of power that you are in control of, even if it is a bit iffy.

I spent $65.00 so Mom had a power pack that would jump here vehicle easily.  It also has a little air compressor and a couple of USB ports for charging.  I had a dying battery and I used my little jump RAV power almost daily until I could afford to buy a new battery.  Think outside the box on power. Even a small power bank that is rechargeable via solar is a good choice for energy.


PC maintenance, tools and a new car battery

December 20, 2017

I have added a few more items to help take care of my PCs and laptops.  I picked up two 2TB external hard drives to make backups on all the computers in the house.  One of the hard drives is for Mom and one for me.   I’m  amazed by how small these drives are compared to the old hard drives and with Windows 7 the backup was  relatively fast and easy.  I paid $64.00 for each Seagate drive via newegg.com.  Data storage is so cheap now and backing up data so simple, it doesn’t make sense not to back up data on an external hard drive.

I splurged and paid $5.00 for an external DVD RW drive and have been uploading some of my old video games.  I loaded Unreal Gold on a Win 7 PC and the game looks great.  Unreal Gold came out around 2000 so I’m having a lot of fun revisiting all those older PC games.

Since we don’t the old floppy drives or even CD’s much  for data storage/file transfers I got a couple of 64 GB USB thumb drives for that little problem of having a portable storage system that fits on a key ring.  I still remember building my first PC when a 5 GB hard drive would set you back several hundred dollars back in the 90’s.  Now I have a USB drive on a key ring for about $25.00.  Gosh isn’t competition a wonderful thing?

I picked a wedge for splitting the larger chunks of wood and some files to start putting a real cutting edge on my splitting maul.  Once I knock off some of the excess metal then I can get out my sharpening stones and put a good cutting edge on all the axes.

Oh gosh I spent a couple of hours getting my slow leaking tire fixed and replacing the old battery on the Kia.  I had a small revolving credit account with Les Schwab and it became in-active after 3 years of not using it.  So I needed to re-activate the account. I just paid for battery in full rather than fuss with credit.  Credit being easy but not always simple was really brought home to me as I stopped by the grocery store and a young gal attempted to pay via her smart phone.  I guess this is now a thing!  Well her smart phone did not work so well and she drug out her plastic card.  I just paid in cash again!

Good news is I have started  building up the Emergency fund this month.  I did not really expect to start building it so early as I figure Jan. 2018 would be the month to start building it up.   Speaking for myself, now I know the value of the Emergency fund rather than just scrambling financially to pay the bills when emergencies happen.  Having the cash on hand to pay for my stitches and getting the doggie dental work done made my life a little less stress full.

Last but not least I picked up 6 pairs of merino wool socks and some more leather work gloves.  Keeping your hands and feet warm and protected is critical at all times but particularly in the cold of winter.  Last year my feet got wet and cold which made me miserable.  This year I got good warm/ waterproof boots and adding leather work gloves to the jersey cloth gloves in my stock pile.  It was a bit more expensive buying the boots but they are only used 3 months of the year so the boots should last a few years before needing replaced.

I placed the thermal barrier bubble wrap on the back entry way and Diana the peke loves it.  She sleeps there all the time.  Plus the other dogs seem to like hanging out in the door way.  Thermal wrap adds about a R-4 value but it is awesome for cutting down drafts. Plus you don’t break the bubbles of the internal bubble wrap walking across it.

Oh! I just remembered I have the new door handle and dead bolt for the front door.  This is a mostly cosmetic replacement of hardware but I’m using 2.5 to 3 inch deck screws to tie the lock into the door studs and not just the door frame wood.  Oh any persistent “Bad Guys”  could bust the door down but why bother when there are so many easier targets?


Burning pine in the wood stove

December 18, 2017

Getting wood this year has been a challenge.  I thought I had a good supplier and I even paid upfront for a wood delivery to help him get his pickup engine re-built so he could deliver wood.  I have not heard a word from that guy since February.

About August I’m starting to get nervous as I have not found a new wood supplier so I get put on a waiting list for pine to be delivered later….. Maybe!

Huzzah! I get get a new wood supplier from a friend recommendation and the wood looks pretty good as it is mostly hardwoods in the first cord that is just a little small but the price is great!  Oops! turns out the guy may be facing felony theft charges and the cops have a warrant for his arrest. I’m running out of options to restock my wood racks for this winter heating season so I call up the folks about the pine delivery.  Huzzah they will deliver a full cord of pine that fills my wood racks.  The people that delivered the pine were great very honest and open about pine not being the best firewood for wood heat rather than just a “decorative” fire in a fire place or wood stove.

Mom and I have learned a lot about burning pine and it has not been fun.  It seems with the Ponderosa pine we got is we get to types of fire.

  1. A “smudge” type fire that just sort of smolders and smokes without putting out a lot of heat.
  2. A “bonfire” with lots of flame that burns out quick with the damper wide open.

I’m not some sort of wood burning purist as I can usually find the positives along with the negatives of burning different types of wood but I’m not finding a lot of positive thing to say about burning pine for heat.

I did have a some very positive wood buying experiences.  The guy that delivered the mill ends was great!  Yeah it was just a ranger pickup load of mill ends but he stacked the wood in the bed rather than just dumped it in the box.  So I got a lot more wood than I anticipated.  The people that delivered the pine say they will have Douglas/ Red fir starting in in May next year so I can get an early start on my wood pile for next winter.

Last but not least I still have quite a bit of leftover wood from last year that is finally dried out from last spring.  The problem is almost all of that wood is under all the pine wood I stacked on the wood racks.  Now Mom and I are re-stacking the pine to get at the older dried wood. There is a lot more leftover wood from last year than I thought originally.  Now that I have enough wood racks next year I can fill/rotate the older dried wood and fill up the new wood racks rather than just stack the new fire wood on top of the older fire wood.

I don’t know if this is a thing with kiln dried wood but the pine that was kiln dried seems to suck in moisture like a sponge.  In SW Idaho we have had inversions and a very humid (for us)  winter.   My thinking is the kiln drying may open up the wood cells to dry might make those wood cells open to moisture once the wood is out of the kiln.  I’m not going to throw the pine in the trash but I’m going to use last year’s woods and give the pine time to dry naturally.

UPDATE:  Putting the thermal barrier down on the back entry way floor has made a huge difference in the feeling of warmth in the back part of the house.  I can’t say the area was drafty but it was a cold sink that was noticeable, and the temp in the back part of the house is averaging about 2+ degrees F. warmer compare to before adding the thermal barrier.  That may not sound like much but, that 2 degree difference can create a drafty feeling.


House pictures!

December 16, 2017
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Front Entry

That pic gives a good idea of all the all the work done via the siding to the right as you are looking at the pic you see part of the new window installed. I did not have the porch windows replaced because of the additional cost.  The porch is protected but not insulated so it seemed a bit silly to invest in new windows for that area.

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This is the before pic after the roof was added

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North side of the house from the front yard. 

As you can see I need to paint the foundation area next spring or summer but I very please with the look of the siding.  Adding a stone fascia would be optimal but paint is a lot cheaper and faster.  My local True Value store has matched both the red and grey colors on the house so I will probably get a red paint for the foundation that matches the red accents.  I’ll be adding the new door lever and dead bolt to the front door once I get paid next week.  I’m going with an aged bronze finish like I installed on the back door.

Other happenings:

My neighbor is buying the large rounds of wood that I got but wasn’t split.  The neighbor is a burly guy and I’ve seen him split wood so this give me more space for wood and the neighbor get some great wood late in the season for a great price.  With this wood and buying fruit (apple and cherry) from the local orchards staying warm via wood heat won’t be a problem.

Speaking of burning wood both Mom and I are learning how to burn split pine.  I have wood racks on a concrete base and when there is an inversion dry soft woods suck in moisture like a sponge. All wood is now up off the concrete and is covered on top by a tarp.  All of the wood ends are exposed to the wind for drying.  Here in the west we don’t have a lot of hardwood for burning.  I recommend stocking up on Douglass/red fir and hit the orchards for apple/cherry wood. Elm and locust can grow here but it a bitch to split.

Speaking of splinting wood I found a youtube vid of using a sledge hammer with an axe or splinting maul to split large rounds of wood.  It is not fast but it it should be doable for me if it works.  I have a few rounds I’d like to make smaller and if it works I can go out and pound on the logs without trying to muscle through the splitting the logs.

Last but not least I laid down thermal barrier on the floor of my backdoor entry way.   I think when it was originally installed it was a glass patio door and then enclosed.  The floor area sits on concrete and has very little insulation.   I added a rubber backed carpet and that helped some on the cold and heat from the concrete radiating hot in summer and cold in winter. I laid down Thermal barrier on the floor and cover with the rubber back carpet and we gained another 2 degrees of heat in the back room.  The carpet is not sliding around and the back part of the house is getting warmer as I type.

I don’t think the addition to my house was very well insulated so I have to insulate as money become available.  I’m not going to screw around ripping off the siding so that means I have to insulate from the inside out.  I’m not going to tear out drywall because  I feel a bit cool and semi uncomfortable.  I’ll make this as comfortable as possible then gather cash to make things more comfortable.

It is not like we are freezing to death.  Heck at worst the temp reading was 62 degrees F.  Hardly a precursor to the Apocalypse!  Add socks and put on a sweater is not exactly a sign of the end of civilization.