Moving wood and garden building supplies bouught

March 31, 2018

Mom and I split another load of mill ends.  So Mom’s truck got loaded yesterday and I finished getting my mill ends stacked today.  I figure another full load of mill ends should give me about 2/3’s of a cord of mill ends.  I’m undecided if I want buy one more full load so I have a full cord  of mill ends on hand.  Last year Mom ended up in charge of the wood stove since she is more sensitive to feeling cold.  She really like starting a little fire of the mill ends when she woke up at 0 dark thirty just to warm the house up in the fall.  I wake up later so the house didn’t seem as cold to me in the AM.  Plus I tend to prefer a cooler house compared to Mom.  I suppose I’ll make that decision in June or July after I get the Doug fir delivered and stacked.

I’m very excited about getting the two cords of wood delivered mid-April.  I have cleared one wood rack and have started clearing out the second rack.  Moving the wood is taking a little longer than I first anticipated because I’m trying to have a good mix of wood accessible in each rack.  I’m cutting  the older wood to size for kindling. I’d like to fill a small rack (6ft. x 4ft.) that is  just kindling. I’m having to cut down or split some of the older chunks that were to big to burn in my wood stove.  Both of these jobs are easier in Spring/Fall when the weather is nice.

I got the lumber for framing the first two garden beds. The 2 x 6 x 10 foot boards cost just under $10.00 each. I was able to save on the 2 x 4  corner post cost, as I have plenty of mill ends that are in the 12 inch to 18 inch range.  If you want to do this sort of raised bed  garden I’d budget at least $100.00 for the cost of  lumber and soil for two raised beds.  I got a few bags of soil and manure to fill up the raised beds as needed.  I have used this mix for other raised beds and last year Mom had it tested via her Master Gardeners course.  I roto-till  this Bagged soil with the natural soil and it test out to be nearly ph neutral with plenty of minerals.  Speaking just for myself, once you get ph neutral then it is easier to add supplements for individual plants.

I still have plenty of yard clean up to get done! from cleaning up deadwood, to pruning my fruit trees.  I think my little roto- tiller has a few hours worth of work on the new garden beds as well as working the “chicken run” crusted chicken residue back into the soil.  Once I remove a small tree, clean up the chicken residue and a small tree I might get the hard side green house set up this summer. The green house might help extend the Fall growing season this year.  Honestly the green house will be next to my shop and I could heat it year round.  I’m not sure about the trade off costs of electricity and vegetables  at this time.  Probably no worse than heating the chicken house for eggs last winter.

Once the dead tree is removed I’ll see about setting up the green house.  I may have to move the compost bins and level the ground.

I’d like to remind you all that have been prepping along with me.  Don’t forget to stock up once things change or settle down in your life.  Having Mom live with me was great but I also used up some prepped items because money was tight.  A few stitches here or a  major surgery for a pet can really hurt your cash flow.  These things happen and you just have to roll with that “Emergency Cash Fund/Savings” getting used from time to time.  I mean that it is why you have an Emergency Cash Fund.  Don’t make the mistake I did. Emergency funds and Savings funds should be kept separate.  I know that is not always possible but I treated Emergency savings and regular saving as the same thing, they are not the same.  When building the emergency fund go heavy starting out but at least put a little bit into your savings fund.  As you build up the Emergency fund start moving more cash into your savings fund.   At least that is what I’m working on.

Last but not least I got my big bathroom shower head working again!  We have very hard water and Lime/hard water scale can build up very quick.  That is not usually a problem with faucets as you work the internal parts regularly.  Well I do not use the big bathroom shower head regularly and the bypass “latch/valve ” froze up because of hard water scale.  A couple of treatments of CLR remover and using pliers to move the shower switch valve. ( Switch/plunger) wrapped in cloth so not to damage the finish and now my shower head works again!  Not to knock plumbers as the ones I have had do jobs are great but I bet they hate doing stupid/simple jobs.  Goodness knows I hated doing PC repairs that took only connecting a cord or updating drivers or restarting a PC/router/printer.  Now that I know the hard water can clog the switch/transfer valve. I’ll go back to using it at least weekly to spray down the tub after cleaning.

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Fire wood ordered and Solar energy for Mom’s shops

March 26, 2018

Last years scramble taught me to get my fire wood early. The company that delivered a cord of pine fire wood last November, called back  for two cords of Douglas Fir to be delivered mid April.  I really like this company because they are very honest about the quality of wood plus they deliver a full cord of 4 ft. x 4 ft. by 8 ft. cord! Douglas Fir is a great fire wood to burn as it is easy to split, burns a long time for a soft wood and is available in the Western USA.  We don’t have hardwood forests like the eastern part of the USA but we have a lot of pine and fir forests.

Mom is going to this company and get a 1/2 cord of lodgepole pine she can load in the 1 ton dually rather than have them charge her for delivery.  What is nice is the company will measure out a 1/2 cord and then she hauls it away.  The pine is a cheaper than the Douglas fir and this is a good way for Mom to start building her fire wood stack.  A few months of hot summer weather will season the wood to burn this winter.

I’m still getting small loads the mill ends delivered.  This is great fire wood for starting a fire and building a quick fire to warm up the house in spring and fall.  My plan is to get a full cord of the mill ends bought and stacked by June.  I’ll have another small pickup load of the mill ends coming this week that Mom and I will split between us.  My plan is to make monthly purchases so I have one cord of mill ends before June.  Buying through the spring months will help the cash flow of these wood cutters/businesses and be one less worry for me going into winter.

I’m moving around the older wood to the close to home wood racks.  What I want is empty wood racks where I receive new firewood to stack.  I have quite a bit of wood in the racks that is seasoned ready to burn in the racks. Two cords of Douglass fir will probably max out my wood racks and I’ll have a bit of overflow of wood.  Not a problem as that just gives the wood more time to dry/season.  As a disabled/handicap prepper I can’t just go out and cut wood, so I need to stock up.

I’m not sure I can swing it financially but I want to add some fruit wood and another two cords of Douglas fir to my preps/wood pile. Since Mom moved the “chicken house” to her place.  I have a large carport area for wood storage while still having covered parking available.  If you can’t gather your own firewood start buying fire wood early and beat the crowds that buy firewood in the fall.  Buying wood early gives the wood additional time to season and dry so it burns clean. Get that chimney sweep in during the summer to clean and you might get a discount as summer is the “slow” season for chimney sweeps.

I talked to Mom about going Solar powered for her shops because she can’t afford to put in a power line.  She has a great area for southern exposure and most of the panels and a small solar battery bank/generator to try solar energy.  Perhaps she can only run a few LED lights, but it would be a good test of solar energy potential for the future.  Since Mom can’t afford to run a power pole or electric lines we might as well try out solar energy as she has the panels and a small solar generator.  If it fails we have lost nothing but some time and effort.  If it works we have a great back up energy source.

There is a lot to do. I can’t say it will be fun but it will be interesting.  Stay focused on your goals. Food to eat, warmth in your home, safe water to drink. That is the the basics, after that is about working to be comfortable.

Everything is simple.  It is just the simple thing are hard/ not easy.


Chicken wire and tarp is up over the Chicken run. Huzzah!

March 25, 2018

There was almost no wind at Mom’s place this afternoon so we could finally could get the chicken wire and tarp installed on top of the kennel Mom uses as the chicken run.

I screwed together two 2 x 4 inch pressure treated boards as a center post then using fencing bracket attaching five foot long 2 x 4s to support the chicken wire and keep the center post upright.  We then cut 10 foot long sections of wire and laid them on top of the kennel and supporting boards.  To secure the wire we used Zip ties along the metal frame and stapled the wire to the 2 x 4 cross braces.

Overall this job was a lot easier compared to shoving boards under the wire to support the wire under a snow load.  The wire is tight and is not sagging at all.  The way I attached the Cross members will be easy to break down or Mom could buy additional 2 x 4s to complete framing the top of the kennel if she wants that done in the future.

There were a few places that we used duct tape on both sides of the tarp to repair some holes that had been worn in the 16 x 12 foot tarp. Putting up the tarp was very easy!  The long side of the tarp went on the side of the kennel that seems to get the most wind. As another wind break and hopefully will help keep the wind from getting under the tarp and making it a sail.  Mom used bungee cords to hold the tarp so the tarp has a little give to flex with the wind. The center post will keep most of the tarp off the wire and help shed any water or snow that could build up.  As taut as the tarp is now, I suspect the wind will keep most water and snow from building up on the tarp.

I removed all the “landscape timbers” around my big garden bed and hauled them to Mom’s place. I will be setting up stakes to plot out the new garden beds for my place.  Using the mill ends 2 x 4’s for support/corner posts is shaping up nicely and will save me money.  I won’t have to buy 8 foot long 2 x 4 and cut them up for the garden beds.  I have building up good soil so I will get started with 2 of the beds and see how much garden soil will be need after the first couple of beds are complete.  I’ll also need more mulch for pathways between the beds.

The new beds will have a north south orientation rather than east west so that will affect how I plant the garden.   It is exciting to try out these new garden beds.  I know I can grow stuff now I need a way to grow stuff that is a bit more controlled and easier to harvest. Hopefully more but smaller raised beds will work for me.

Gardens are a lot like money. It’s not about how much you grow/make.  It’s about how much you use and preserve/keep each year.

I have visiting the Gutenberg library online and the have a great collection of not only old books but videos and even old computer software.  The books are an easy download to kindle and if not go to Amazons free library section.  I have several of Mark Twain’s books, downloaded Tolstoy’s essays as well as some more modern SCi-Fi from the Baen free library of people like John Ringo and David Weber.  I am a firm believer  in reading all sorts of books. Though I’m not a big fan of “romance” novels but bodice ripping is a popular theme of many sci-fi novels at least as a subplot.

What I have in my little kindle could have bought and sold kingdoms in the Renaissance not to mention the Medieval period.  Read a “Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”.  It was enlightening to me. It had time travel, politics, education, labor rights and several takes of how well a modernist could influence a serf society.  History often has people that make a splash in time. It is the ripples that the average people feel that often affect society the most!

 

 


Garden supplies, mill ends and daffodils

March 21, 2018

I picked up and paid for the Gardening supplies from the Church that held the gardening class.  One of the garden gals was nice enough to stop by after work so I could pick up and pay for the supplies. I got a lot of the plant protective fabric, some netting for climbing plants and some fish compost to try out on a couple of beds as well as getting my compost bins cooking again.

I sort of started my “finished” compost bin layout. I don’t think I’ll have to buy many concrete blocks to complete the walls of that bin.  Right now it looks like Lowe’s has the best deal for hardware cloth for that bin to sift the compost.  I was a little surprised because Lowe’s and Home Depot tend to have prices about the same but in my area you can get 10 feet of hardware cloth at Lowes for about the same price that Home depot charges for 5 feet of the same cloth.   Now,  Home Depot has the lumber I need and I much prefer the products for wood mulch and soil for garden beds.   This is why I love comparison shopping on the internet. You can get your shopping list all set up before leaving the house and make your money stretch a bit farther.

I got the deliver of mill ends today and I asked the guy if I could get some longer pieces of wood. Well that has worked out great as I got quite a few 2 x 4’s  in about 18 inch lengths.   That means I can use those 2 x 4’s as my raised bed garden posts and NOT cut up the 8 foot long into 1 foot sections.  Lumber prices seem to be coming down a little but if I can use scrap lumber for short braces for my new garden beds I’ll take it!

Speaking of the mill ends.  Mom showed up with the truck and we loaded about half of the mill ends and some chunks of firewood in it.  We want to get another load next week and split it between us.  While some people heat only with mill ends I prefer having a mix of wood through winter.  I have to say that mill ends seem to be a great Fall or early Spring fire wood as you get a quick fire to take the chill off the house but you don’t need to burn a fire all day/all night long.   Plus mill ends are easy to cut or split if you need kindling.   Last but not least I gave Mom a round of Maple for her chopping stump/block. If you have ever chopped wood  and buried your ax in dirt or had a chunk of bury itself in dirt like a very fat tent stake you know the value of a chunk of wood that will offer some resistance to the ax/maul and keep the edge of the ax/maul blade safe from getting chipped or dinged up.  My latest project for wood cutting is building a small “Saw buck” to hold chunks of wood while we use the chain saws to cut the wood to fit our wood stoves.

In the flower garden the little daffodils have already flowered!  The roses are putting out buds and the holly berries are starting to form. One of my neighbors had an ornamental fruit tree explode into blossoms.  Bad news, we are looking at 29 degrees F. temps this week. Good news is we are in the city so there is a “heat island” effect plus we are some what protected from cold winds.  Daffodils and pansies look delicate but both plants are very hardy.  My Irises and tulips are putting on a lot of green in the flower beds.  Hopefully this will be a light frost and all plants and the orchards can get good production even with Spring being a little flaky this year.


Mill ends, kindling and electric bill lower

March 19, 2018

I had a couple of loads of mill ends delivered last fall and it was darn good for starting a quick fire in the wood stove.  The wood delivered was great and the price was awesome so I have ordered the the first of many loads of the mill ends for myself and give some to Mom for her stove.  When you heat with wood but are not physically capable of cutting down your own fire wood you often have to take what you can find.  When you find a good wood supplier they become as valued as gold or diamonds, at least to me.

Right now I’m at the end of the “wood burning” season but it can still get a bit cool overnight so having a fire burning overnight and wood coals in the morning is nice even if all I do is toss a few chunks of wood to make the house comfy for me is worth starting a fire.  While pine is not the most BTU dense wood it makes great kindling.

I still have a lot of pine wood that is now seasoned and I split a few chunks I had on hand.  OMG the pine was so easy to split with my ax!  While the pine kindling does not hold fire as long as maple, it does hold fire long enough to ignite fruit woods like apple and cherry.  Pine seems to make a great firewood if you just need to warm a house fast but don’t need a long burning fire for all day or overnight.  There is no perfect wood for burning, though Red/Douglas fir seems to be a good all around wood for easy to split and burns a long time for a soft wood. I think I got white maple and that seems like an easy to start wood that also burns a long time.  Remember wood is location specific.  In the west we have mostly soft woods, you all back east have hardwoods.  What wood you burn will depend on where you live.

My electric bill has dropped a lot this month and next month it is forecasted to get much lower.  That is is expected as Spring and fall are my lowest electrical cost months.  It seems with the new windows I have a lot more natural light and with the insulation and siding the house is holding in more heat overnight.  With summer coming I’ll have plenty of natural light with the new windows, will my cooling costs be lower is the question.

I am going to buy the stuff for a new raised bed garden system.  I have already bought many of the components for drip irrigation though I’ll need to invest in lumber for the new raised beds and lumber is not cheap. Mom will get my landscaping timbers for her place so the original garden is not a loss. I’ll have to watch Tucker the pekes digging but he seldom digs in 8 inch or higher beds.  So 10 inch beds may be the pet proof sweet spot as long as Tucker has other places to dig.  The church ladies were super nice to set aside my order for gardening stuff until I could pay for it.

Overall I think I’m going to have a productive week.   I’ll have to do physical work in 2-3 hour chunks with rest breaks but what I want to get done by the end of March should be very doable for me.

People that are close to 100% physically that work a job of care for a home and kids are actually darn close to me for leftover physical energy to devote to a job at your home.   I see those that don’t do offer suggestions about why don’t you do….  I’ll tell you we don’t have the time or money to do…. what you say.  I spent about 5 years of my life buying a wood stove, crunching the numbers and bought cheap wood a year before I bought a wood stove, I did not have to feed every 2-4 hours.

I just have a city lot and want to grow some food and preserve it.  I have to live cheap because I can’t afford to live expensive.  I can’t go totally green, organic and other nonsense  because I can’t afford it.  All I can do is the best I can.


Gardening class today

March 17, 2018

Finished up the last of the gardening classes and got some great info on when to start seeds indoors and some composting info.  Starting the seeds is easy if not simple because timing is everything.  Having folks that grow a large garden and have the timing down for the local area is a huge help to me.  Also these ladies have jobs and personal gardens along with volunteering at the “Church” garden.  They don’t stress turning a compost pile, weeding, watering or daily working in a garden because they have jobs, lives and families. Yet the church garden produced over 4000 pounds of fresh produce for local food banks and they kept up their own gardens, compost piles and daily lives.   If gardening is your life that is great, but I want gardening to be a part of my life,  not my whole life.

I have budgeted a new raised bed garden set up based on what I have learned and over all I have a solid if not perfect base to build upon.  I’m excited to start a concrete block compost bin setup with hardware cloth to “strain” out the usable compost from my bins.  I already have the blocks on hand so the only cost will be the hardware cloth, time and physical energy. As I have read about composting it was a daily thing.  Not so much according to these gardening ladies.  Turning the compost once a week or even twice a month is okay.  No, your compost won’t break down as quickly but that is not a bad thing when you focus on Spring and Fall feeding of a garden.

I will have to set out stakes for getting all the dimensions of the new garden beds built that replaces my large garden bed.  What is nice is all of my old landscaping timbers can go to Mom’s place and help her define her landscaping  areas.

One thing I can say is I’m not a big fan of straw as mulch but it does seem great at make a brick like layer when mixed with the local clay/alkali soil. Straw mixed with chicken poo can be great in a compost heap or in a garden but scraping up those dense layers after 3 years of having a chicken house is not fun.

The plan of attack for next week is to clean up the chicken pen/house remnants.  Build a concrete brick box for finished compost. Stake out the area for the new raised beds and get the materials to build the new beds. Start pruning the trees around my house.  With my copious free time/ physical energy,  I need to help Mom install some big curtain rods, predator proof her chicken run and help her move stuff from my shop to her shops.

Everything we have to get done is very simple, but that does not mean it will be easy.  Monday looks like a low wind day and Mom is coming into town so we can load up the Kia with some furniture Mom wants at her place and get at the chicken run predator proofed with chicken wire.

One last FYI on how warm the house is staying.  I’m sure it both the addition of vinyl siding + insulation but the biggest difference is good windows. I believed the new windows has made a difference in heating the house because the back part of the house regularly hits the upper 70’s just using wood heat.  The house holds heat much better over night especially on windy days or nights. The summer test will be interesting because I don’t have to install a window A/C unit in her room.  My plan is use just one window unit in my bedroom this summer for keeping cool to sleep and use fans to cool the rest of the house this summer.  I’ll set up the large portable A/C in case it is needed but I hope with the new windows and siding last fall,  the house will stay cooler this summer.

Lots of new and things happening as Mom has a bunker to replace the basement.  Perhaps not a bunker but a really good size storm shelter/ root cellar.  I have no idea how things will work out but it should be fun to try out new things and see how they work out. Speaking for myself I find many projects can seem overwhelming at first but once you start breaking them down into small size chunks daily or weekly.  Those tasks seem a lot more manageable.

Such as: This week start snow peas

Next week start broccoli, cabbages and maybe some micro-greens.  Prepare garden beds.   Just a bunch of simple steps to take, if not all of them are not easy or cheap.


Windy at Mom’s place this week.

March 15, 2018

The wind was blowing so hard at Mom’s place it was rocking the Kia mini-van back and forth when it was parked!  So we did not get the tarp and wire up on the chicken pen.  I did get a few of jobs done inside of of the house.  I’m hoping we get a few days of less wind so we can finish up the chickens pen/run. Eventually we hope to get some of the seed from  Holly bushes I have in my yard and start making a few windbreaks out in Mom pasture.  Mom has a few starts on a couple of trees that will provide shade eventually.  A good thing about my holly is does not need the great soil to start growing.

Mom’s new cable modem/router is installed so she won’t have to pay the monthly rental fee to cable company for a modem.  We got a Netgear C3700 wireless cable modem for $43.00 from newegg.com and it was simple to set up if you are used to working with routers and modems.  I just plugged in the modem, set up the basic home Wireless LAN and then called Cableone to activate the internet.  I have to say for an all in one cable modem/wireless router the Netgear does the job at a great price.  I still need to setup Mom’s kindle and Roku to connect to the internet but that should be simple sit down job at her place.

Mom and I finagled one more set of blinds into place.  One of the brackets got broken and so I had to make do on with a bracket I had on hand.  This replacement bracket is not holding the blind in place securely so it will need to be replaced once the money is available. Mom had some great blinds she got at a yard sale but the windows in her house are all goofy sizes so of course the did not fit.  The house has a freaking huge window that is over a 100+ inches wide that has posed a challenge for hanging a curtain rod.  Mom has a track curtain rod that will fit but I have never hung one of those rods and all the hanging parts are in a bag with no instructions.  Thank goodness for youtube because I found a vid that shows how to install those rods, plus how to place the hooks in the bracket to help insulate the window and block out light.  Now all I have to do is make sure we have all the parts, test fit the rod to the brackets and if that works we can install the rod and Mom will have a bit of privacy and the curtains will help insulate the windows.

We are getting stuff done but when have about 3-4 hours of physical energy and a 30 minute one way commute along with all those household chores of cleaning, firewood, animals and lack of money can make the progress of jobs getting done, seems a little slow and frustrating. Once we get stuff organized and can start building stuff for the future we will feel a a lot more positive about how things are going.  Right now we are stuck on seeing all the things we can’t get done rather than seeing all that we have done.

Hell we can choose to use any good wood we find and burn or trash any bad wood around Mom’s place.  I bought a gallon of chainsaw oil and gave Mom about 12 oz. for her small chain saw.  If we go all out we will cut that little pile of wood in under an hour.  If the wood does not look like it is full of nails so it it will be good for burning but we hope to reuse it.

At Mom’s place there is a lot of wood stacked and we don’t know if it usable for projects or it just needs to be turned into firewood or sent to a landfill. We need to see what we can salvage and what needs to get trash. I want to get Mom at least a couple of raised beds started at her place if only to start improving the soil via as a modified compost bin to add organic matter to the abused soil.
Gosh the only soil we have worked with is the stuff filled with trash.  I did try and stake stuff in the pasture and the dirt is harder than the back of God’s head that does not mean all the soil is that dense/hard.  Never add sand to clay soil or you will end up with a bad version of concrete.  Heck I screwed up improving my soil adding sand to clay soil before listening to some people, then I started using wood mulch paths rather than concrete walkways and started building up the soil with organic matter. At least now I know a little bit about building raised beds, soil and water management.  Now the problem is the lack of funds to getting gardens started at both houses.

I will be building a new sort of raised bed to maximize food growth rather than ease of use.  But It may well work out to be an easy to work garden.  I figure I’ll need to invest a couple of hundred dollars on this new raised bed system but I should get a longer growing season and more output this year.  Mom is going to help with my beds and we will start on building her raised beds, compost bin and building soil this year.  Mom will do some container gardening and start prepping her land for next year.

Any sort of gardening takes planning, preparation, physical work and time.  I despise straw mulch as it does not break down in a year in the garden, but I love wood mulch pathways and using wood mulch to eliminate weeds in the alley way garden that has very poor soil.  It is not that straw mulch is bad it simply is not the best choice for my type of gardening.

TL: DR we are building raised beds eventually.