Puttering around between the Holidays

December 30, 2020

Got a little skiff of snow in the morning and the fog froze on all the trees. A blue sky would have added a nice contrast but even power lines can be beautiful with a light coat of frost. I will keep the Xmas lights going until the 2nd of January just to be festive through the Holidays. I’m hoping the Xmas light nets go on sale in 2021 so I can add more lights to my chain link fence. A couple of great things about the LED lighting is lower power cost and safety compared to the old light that got so hot they could melt plastics or ignite dry wood. You don’t hear as many news stories about Xmas trees bursting into flames and causing house fires now a days!

My little bit of decorating makes me happy and I hope other people happy even if they can’t afford or can’t get out physically and decorate their homes for whatever reason. I don’t know how other people react when they see holiday decorations, but I almost always think the decorations are great. Be it a simple candle in the window or some one setting up a lazer light show with music.

There have been a few “How Dare You have ….” stories on the internet. Virtue signaling idiots that seem to think that if you are not miserable you can’t possibly care about poor people. I can’t see how about $20.00 in LED lights and less than $ 5.00 in my electric bill constitutes me mocking poor people. Especially when my income is consider just slightly above the USA government poverty level. Instead of whining on twitter or virtue signaling to your in group about how much you care about poor people. Why don’t you buy a few strings of lights, a tree or off to pay some the electric bill of a poor family? Stop scolding other people and work on what YOU are doing to make the little bit of the earth you inhabit a better place.

I’m no different than most people on the internet. I’ an asshole with an opinion. I like to think I offer a bit of education on prepping and what worked for me. I have enough trouble just living my life as I see fit and don’t have enough time on my hands to try and scold others how they live their lives. Generally I don’t care how other people live their lives as long as no one gets hurt. If someone is getting hurt, stop it if you can. Go to the cops if you can’t stop it yourself. Not the internet! You don’t have to interact with every asshole that is on the internet. The worse thing you can do to these attention whores is simply “spotlight” them and then ignore them as they thrive on attention and as being seen as the hero. Mock them but never take them seriously.

For those that get more concrete threats simply send it to the police and keep records of whatever threat and don’t engage with any moron that makes threats that you can record and keep printed copies of said threats.

On that happy note I’m looking for the pittance check $600.00 the US Congress has decided is equitable for destroying small business, kept you from earing a living, you out of church and your kids out of schools and made your eviction/ forecloser possible since the government placed American Citizens under house arrest for 9 + months. Never mind that the 900 Billion USA Covid relief bill allocated 174 Billion dollars for the USA and 746 Billion dollars for the rest of the world. Why would anyone play a game when they know they can’t win?

Good news my local Fred Meyer/ Kroger has both Bacon and Coffee on sale this week. Bacon is $2.99 per pound for a 3 pound package and Yuban coffee is $3.99 per can. The ad has Burpee seed packs, seed starters/soil planters and plant lighting and it is December. Perhaps my memory is wrong but most seeds and indoor seed pots/starter kits get offered on sale around Feb./March in my planting Region(6A) . Burpee seed packs germinate well and the seed packages can last at least 2-4 years in less than ideal storage conditions. If/when we get the pittance of $600.00 I would invest in growing your own food as much as possible. If you don’t have space to grow food invest in food storage and top off any needs you have from clothing and books to backup power/heating. Take care of the basics first and then add in more comfort as you can afford. A little bit of you having control of your lights, heating and cooling can make a huge difference in your mental state of mind. It might be a generator, a grill solar panels that you have the fuel/know how to use your energy source that you have stocked up.

I am having no luck “banking” my fire overnight. I can start a fire easily with paper my fire starter and a match. I have cut kindling and split my fire wood to make those easy to start smaller chunks of wood. I have made a bed of coals in the wood stove that my front room is 85-90 F. and I can’t seem to bank coals to last 6- 8 hours overnight. This is not critical, as my home does stay about 65-72 degrees F. into the morning when I wake up to start a new fire. I’d just like to start my fire from last nights coals, rather than kindling a new fire each day.

On closing off the pet door at night. The kittens did scratch at the floor and door for a couple of days. It seem to help keeping the “kitty litter box” clean daily and getting up around 8:00 AM /with the sunrise. I have no random neighborhood cats come in the house since installing the new pet door. I had one cat jump in the bird bath after I had cleared the ice and filled the bath with warm water. I’m adding more waterers as it seems many animals need easy to access water and not snow or ice. The birds really like the ‘berry” suet cake and the peanut suet cake is not as popular. Of course I’m in SW Idaho and not in Georgia so that is understandable despite the fat and protein content of peanuts.

I know I’m often “Preaching to the Chior” as most of you are already prepping and know more than I. I don’t know what more I can do to reach more people to encourage them to get more self reliant. There are much bigger blogs than mine that put out much of the same info but perhaps I strike a cord with a person that no one else found. Honestly this blog is as much for me as it is for anyone that reads it. If this blog helps you great! If it makes you look deeper into self reliance great. I’m not an expert! I’m like most people just muddling along and sharing what is working of not working for me.


Xmas Lights

December 26, 2020

It has been strange that only I and my neighbor have up some Xmas lights on my block. I was a little late getting my lights up because I needed to some clean up of vines and weeds along my fences. My neighbor added some lights to a couple of small pine trees and then stopped until I added some lights to my yard and then he added more lights to his yard. It feels strange that more people don’t have at least some Xmas lights in their windows or I see some ambient Xmas tree lights through a window. I don’t expect a “Clark Griswold” you can see my “lit” house from space, but I’m not seeing even a small effort of Xmas lights. I literally saw more Halloween lights on my block this year compared to Xmas lights.

Some of the other blocks in my neighborhood were lit up and seeing those lights make me feel happy. I am also a bit sad that my block did not light up this Xmas. I understand why people did not put out Xmas lights. From not feeling festive to not having family visit to people just being worn out from everything 2020 has thrown at them this year and they are just hanging on mentally and fiscally to the bare basics of living.

What did I/my neighbor do? We kept our lights lit all day and night for the last 3 days. I’m not sure of my neighbor’s motivation but mine was “Screw all you Grinches” that want us not to celebrate Christmas in any form.

Mom and I had a great meal of Prime Rib a huge Green salad, fruit and veggie trays and carrot cake for desert. We had pies but the carrot cake was the desert of choice. Mom took home a Care Package of food that should last at least a couple of days of not having to cook meals. It is amazing that I could make a nice salad in December for a special meal. Gosh I do love the USA even when things get a bit “sideways”.

Nothing is as good or bad as portrayed by the media or politicians. All of you make a difference because you don’t succumb to hopelessness. You keep working on building a garden, storing food, using alternative energy where it makes sense and is cost effective. You fight to have chickens and eggs, build a home business, deliverer pizzas and food to keep money coming in daily. You don’t need government help you need the government to get out of your way to make a living how ever you choose to make a living.

The people that build stuff will save America bit by bit. Not the stoner shitting in the street in SF but the Homesteader that builds a garden and grows animals for their family. You don’t have to change the world, just make your little part of the world a little bit better place.

Testing some Foodsaver stored meats stored in the fridge.

December 17, 2020

I have been using the small Food saver to vacuum pack meats to replace the freezer burnt meat I threw away a couple of months ago. I’m very pleased with my progress re-filling the freezers with meats that will last much longer without worrying about freezer burn. Ironically this time of year you tend to get good prices on meat because of meat producers getting animals to slaughter before winter.

I used the foodsaver to package up some meats and stored then in the fridge. What with me being a bit lazy to cook and then the Holidays cooking I sort of forgot to cook those packages of meat. In a way I was almost afraid to open the packages because I was afraid I let the meat spoiled and I wasted food and money.

The last 2 days I got the courage up to open up the packages and the meat was not rotten, in fact it smelled about the same as when I packaged the meat 4-6 weeks ago! I have cooked and eaten the meat and I have had no problems with any sort of food borne illness. One of the coolest thing for me as the only person in my house is that I can re-seal the package of meat and not have to cook everything immediately.

I now see the problem with using the small Foodsaver when you want to freeze larger roasts. Larger chunks of meat won’t fit into the smaller Foodsaver bags. I like buying larger chunks of meat and having the ability to vacuum pack a Rib Eye or more expensive cut of meat on sale is something the larger Foodsaver vacuum system would make saving larger items doable.

I’m repackaging some of the not freezer burnt meats using the foodsaver. As I understand it you can refreeze meats safely if you slowly thaw the meats in the fridge. The texture of the meat might suffer from the ice crystal formations but the meat should be safe to eat. I bought up a lot of “deli” turkey and sliced it up for pet food/treats and it is to expensive to lose to freezer burn, though I’m no longer feed my Tucker dog that sliced turkey.

I’m looking forward to buying the large 5-10 pound bags of frozen veggies from Cash & Carry and making smaller vacuum packed bags of those veggies to freeze if my garden does not produce as many veggies as I would like in a season. I can now freeze my own veggies from the garden and they won’t get freezer burnt. It would be nice to plant cole crops and be able th blanch/freeze them early in the growing season.

The big kindling box is working out great. I grabbed a couple of armfuls of kindling from the big box and filled the indoor firewood box and the big out door box is still half full of kindling. I’ve started using wood from the last wood delivery because it’s just a larger chunk of wood that burns longer and the house stays warmer with those larger chunks of wood.

The new doggie door is working much better at keeping out the cold out but the lining the contractor used to frame the doggie door stops the flap from closing consitantly. I’m a bit of an idiot because I have a Dremel and I can cut back 2-4 inches of that metal so the pet door can shut cleanly. I always wanted a Dremel tool and I constantly forget I have that tool.

I don’t think the people that owned the house previously were big believers of using insulation of any sort. I do have a plan to fix at least some of the problems of the back entryway with new walls, fix some framing and floor covering. It’s just going to take a couple of months of saving up cash to make it happen.

It is not all bad news. I have many more tools and I’m getting a little better at basic carpentry jobs. My biggest cost is is materials and not tools so this project is doable this winter. At this time the only tool I want is a good table saw. But you know how projects and tools go… you always want more/better stuff.

Playing with fire… and water?

December 15, 2020

Perhaps I’m a bit slow learning about using a wood stove, but I have seen many people (homesteader/off-grid types on youtube fill a wood stove to the max with wood. Now I generally start a fire and then add one or two larger chunks as needed to keep the fire going through out the day. As an experiment I filled up the fire box with smaller pieces of firewood but we had warmer overnight temps. The temp. of the house seemed to be about the same in the front part of the house with the woodstove. The backside of the house felt warmer and was measurably warmer compared to just adding a few chunks of wood to keep the fire burning.

The biggest difference was I generated a lot more long lasting coals when I filled up the wood stove compared to just adding a new log when the fire started dying down. The house felt warmer in the morning despite the fact the fire was out in the wood stove. Is building a lot of hot coals the goal, rather than build a good hot fire and just keep feeding the fire?

I’m interested in your opinion though I’m going to keep testing the build a hot fire fast and then let the coals slowly heat the house over time. As many years as I have had a wood stove you would think I’d know how to use the bloody thing!

My Mom talked to my Aunt about a backup water supply that was mentioned to her by my aunt’s daughter. Yes, it is a bit convoluted but my Aunt is now thinking about how reliable her water supply is and how she might need to have some water backups for at least a few days if not longer in a disaster. I doubt that my Aunt would ever think about her needs in a disaster, but she would always put her animals first to get water and food first, if a disaster hit. This is great for me as I just emptied my 15 gallon food grade water barrels to cleanup my front bedroom. I’m not very good at convincing people as I tend to be a bit vociferous and “pounding the table” rather than hanging back and approaching those that are open minded.

Water is heavy at about 7+pounds per gallon. That makes a 5 gallon jug weigh 35-40 pounds depending on the weight of the jug. Now a 15 gallon barrel of water weighs about 120-130 pounds but even I can move a 15 gallon barrel over short distances with a little dolly. Now moving a 55 gallon barrel of water you would have to move over 440 pounds. I can’t move that sort of weight with a dolly. A full 15 gallon water barrel could be lifted by a couple of strong people into a truck.

Speaking only for myself and my experience of not having water at my faucet for a week. I can say you need at least 3-5 gallons per day to keep your home plumbing working if the sewer system works. You can survive on a gallon or two per day your home can’t survive without some water to flush the sewage system.

Igloo jugs are the best for storing a lot of warm or cool water. I like the 5 gallon jugs for holding a lot of water but the smaller 2-2.5 gallon jugs work great on the counter tops in the kitchen and bathroom for washing up dirty hands or dishes.

I don’t like what I think is coming in the near future. The left wants us destroyed, dead, shamed from society. It does not bode well for us folks that the left hates.

Snow is on the way so I’m cutting more kindling.

December 12, 2020

The out door kindling box is working out better than I expected. While cutting kindling can be a little bit tedious, grabbing an armful of kindling to fill up the indoor kindling box is absolutely fantastic! I have been splitting my fire wood into smaller chunks and once that is done I use the hatchet to cut kindling. This method works out well because if I get tired of cutting kindling I can add those in-between size chunks of wood to the front porch wood rack. Those in between sizes of wood let me me build a better fire going from kindling to normal sized split fire wood.

I finally got started on cutting the cherry tree limbs into fire wood size chunks. I was a bit slow to figure out that my Bow saws were perfect for cutting the limbs and much safer than using chain saw which tended to kick the branches out or roll along the chain and get chewed up rather than cut. It was almost therapeutic to cut the wood with a bow saw and let the saw just do the work, with out being so concerned with safety when using a chain saw or even an axe.

I’ve been looking at plans for a simple saw buck and I have enough 2×4’s of four foot lengths I can build one. I’ll need to buy a few long bolts so I can make the a folding saw buck that can be stored out of the way once I get some of the longer bits of wood cut down to fit my stove. I don’t need a super strong or long saw buck as most of the stuff I’m cutting is less than 4 inches in diameter and at most about 24-30 inches long. If I need something longer in the future I can always add an extra X frame to hold the wood.

I’m in really great shape on wood. So far I’m using most of the Doug fir I bought in April 2019 and have not used much of the white or Doug fir delivered July 2020. I want to cut and use the wood I have had for a few years but I could not cut safely into usable chunks for my wood stove. I have at least 1/4 of a cord of dry hard woods I could use for smoking meats in BBQ or for long lasting fires at night. I can’t use because the chunks of wood are to long to fit in my wood stove. I will use all the wood I have on hand., using dried and seasoned wood in the wood stove that will give this years delivered wood more time to dry and season for next year.

Clean up on Home aisle Everywhere!

December 9, 2020

I started cleanup and organizing both my basement and the front bedroom that has become a catch-all of things that need to stay warm or I want close to hand. A couple of weeks ago I emptied four of the 15 gallon water barrels. I tasted the water and other than being a bit (flat) tasting there seemed to be no problem with storing tap water long term ( four+ years) in a room with windows and kept about 75 degrees F. on average. I would not drink stored unchlorinated well water for that time frame without sanitizing the water again before drinking/cooking. I have to say those food grade blue water barrels do a great job storing water under less than optimal conditions.

I emptied those water barrels because I have several 55 gallon barrels stored in dark and 55-65 degree F conditions and I don’t really need to store water in that bedroom long term. I kept the barrels just incase I get a warning of a water emergency but the space dedicated to the small barrels in a bedroom was not needed compared to the loss of space in the room. This explanation is relevant to me cleaning up the basement area.

Now down in my basement was a bit of an ignored mess. I stocked on stuff and then forgot what I had on hand. I put in shelving then did not use the storage space properly. Then the mice came and clean up seemed overwhelming. Cleanup was not as bad as I thought. There were some mouse dropping Mom and I missed on the first big clean up. I used my big shop vac with a bag to get the mouse remnants. Tossed out some old canned food (I did not buy) and I would never eat. I removed some of the shelving and put food on existing shelve so it would be easier to find when needed. I was able to take three shelves upstairs from the basement by using the existing shelves and storage areas more efficiently. I can look down my basement stairs and I don’t wee a mess or hodge-podge of bins, bags and stuff all stacked at random. It’s not perfect but now I have room to move stuff around and make my preps easier to find and use.

Onto the front bedroom cleanup/organizing. Everything looks okay and yet nothing fits. I don’t know if it was the original builders “tricking the eye or the owners before me, renovating badly. I tried fitting some basic furniture and it is a nogo. I’ll have to clean up the hardwood floors and add in proper molding rather than 2×4 covered in shag carpet.

I piss and moan at times and I know you folks are working hard to make your lives better. I’m a bit sore playing Quasimodo lurching around the basement getting my preps better arraigned.

Update on the little red cart. For me, I avoid doing some work because I had no way to simply stack stuff on a cart and move it away. This cart is awesome for moving in tools or moving out stuff until you have place for that stuff.

I’m shutting down the cat door because it still lets in cold air. Kitties can go out side in the day light! I cleared the bird bath of ice and added a bit of warm water and the birds went all in splashing about the bird bath. While feeding the birds is good they need water, not ice that could cool them down.

New pet door installed!

December 6, 2020

SW Idaho has been under an Air Inversion for several days and it has been unpleasant. Cold air gets trapped low to the ground and these inversions tend to be very humid. Humidity makes hot summer weather feel warmer, but it also makes cold weather feel colder. I would prefer being outside in 0 degrees F. at 30% humidity, rather than 25-30 degrees F. at 80% humidity. That high humidity seems to make the cold feel much worse compared to a dry cold.

I got the new pet door installed and only need to bandage up 2 fingers 😉 via my work. I replaced an old plastic framed doggie door with an Metal frame that has a bit of weather stripping between the plastic flap door and metal frame. One thing I noticed with a plastic frame pet door is the door will deform/ deflect to fit your measurement and screw holes, rather than stay rigid to keep the plastic flap of the pet door as air tight as possible. That might not be a problem if you cut into a door but if you install the door through a wall that flexibility installing the pet door created some air gaps for my installation.

My back door entrance area has always been a cooler part of the house. I don’t find as I prefer sleeping at 60-65 degrees F. What was making me crazy was the drafts that chilled me despite of the fact that the room was at least 65-70 degrees F. The doggie door and the badly insulated backdoor entrance was drafty. Heck the pet door flap would not close properly without a visible light gap.

My back bedroom and computer room has jumped about 3 degrees higher in temp. and the draft from the old doggie door has been mitigated. I used Thermal bubble wrap around the frame to make a temporary insulation seal/barrier.

I’m starting to learn how to use my wood stove again to maintain over night heating. Building a good fire and “banking” the coals to last for 6-8 hours has been a challenge for me. I’m in no danger of freezing to death, but I have woke up to 55 degrees F. and I did not like it! Can I deal with 55 degrees F. temps? Sure but if I can learn how to “bank” a fire or pick a chunk or 2 of all night (8 hours) worth of slow burning wood. Why wouldn’t I try to learn that skill? I’m getting better at making a bed of coals and adding a big chunk of firewood before I go to bed so I have some coals to start the fire. My overnight fires are a bit hit or miss. Though most of the house still stays about 60- 65 degrees F. through out the night and into morning.

Last but not least the kindling box is working out great! It is so nice to grab an arm full of kindling for the wood stove and not have to cut kindling in bad weather. Splitting the wood into smaller chunks for that in-between size has worked out better that I expected. Just because you bought cut/split fire wood does not mean you don’t have cut or split that firewood into easy to light fire wood.

Welp! Tthe new pet door has been tested by the kittens and while better than the old pet door. This door does not shut clean without a bit of help. I can fix how well the door shuts in the future but this door is much better than the old plastic door frame and the heavy duty curtains stop most of the minor drafts from the pet door. I’m just happy that most of the drafts are gone. It still feels a bit cooler towards the backdoor entrance but nothing like the draft coming through the old plastic door.