Stacking wood and firewood prep in spring

April 29, 2021

I know that it can be difficult to make a multi-year fire wood pile on a fixed income or tight budget. Just finding a good supplier of wood can take time and effort. Getting “cheap” firewood can end up costing more long term because the wood does not burn well and you need to use more wood or clean your chimney more often as just a couple of examples. Don’t pass up wood that may not seem like traditional firewood if you can cut/split it. In my area of SW Idaho there are huge commercial orchards full of cherry, apple, pear and other fruit trees and the trees are pruned in fall or spring for fruit production. Fruit woods make great firewood but you will get smaller limbs that often need cut to fit into a traditional wood stove. Also these are live trees the limbs are cut so the wood is very green/wet and needs a full year or more to season. The good news is most of the limbs are small in diameter. A small chain saw or bow saw can cut the limbs into woodstove lengths. Fruit woods take a little more effort compared to your average cut and split firewood but it can often be bought in smaller batches and hauled in a small pickup truck. You won’t get the bulk price of having several cords of firewood delivered but it is an option if you want to add a hardwood to your wood pile a little bit as money is available in your budget.

Stacking and seasoning your firewood: This is sort of a new issue for me as last year was the first time I had built up a multi-year stack of firewood. The issue is that once I stack up the firewood, my most dry and seasoned wood is buried in the deepest in the wood pile and the greenest/wettest wood is the wood is the first and easiest wood to reach in my woodpile. I have a lot of space for woodpiles but once you get 4-6 + cords of stacked wood on hand and get a delivery of another 2 cords of green/wet firewood storage and rotating your firewood becomes an issue. I have a solution to this problem by stacking this new two cords of wood in my original firewood spot before I started using the carport area to stack my firewood.

Stacking fire wood only needs 3 things; 1. Airflow to help dry the firewood. 2. Keep the wood mostly dry and protected from rain/snow wetting the fire wood. 3. Time to season for at least a year or two. I know that time to season firewood was the toughest item for me until I started using my carport area for firewood storage.

I use tarps to cover my woodpiles other than the carport area that provides cover against rain and snow. You want your wood pile to breathe/dry so don’t try and seal your wood pile against nature but allow it time to slowly season for a year or two. I have found Cedar fence materials do a great job as a roof over my kindling box and is still relatively cheap to buy at most big box stores it you want a more traditional looking and effective firewood storage area.

The last thing about firewood is the wood you can get is regional here in the USA. Here in Idaho the main fire wood is fir and pine as that is what grows locally. It does not matter that hardwoods burn better or have better BTUs as that wood does not grow locally. If you live an area that has hardwoods like maple , oak, ash or what ever hardwood for firewood good for you. But it is silly to say you need to burn such and such wood if it can’t grow or be harvest in a region. Would I like to pay $200.00 or less for a cord of hardwood absolutely. That happening in Idaho is miniscule. I bet you folks back east would like cheap cedar but that usually doesn’t happen either.

Update on Boomer the dog he had his first not pee or poo in the house day. At best the previous owner kept him as an outdoor dog or only walked him to go poo/pee outdoors. I’m leaning towards the first explanation. I caught him pooping indoors and move him outside just a couple days ago but that seemed to make the connection of what I wanted him to do for house training. I still need to work at giving Boomer a consistent schedule, that is my fault not the dog. Boomer got about 5 hours of time with my Mom’s terrier and while there a few mild doggie dominance issues. I was blown away how Boomer greeted Mom and was not fearful at all this second meeting. In less than 3 weeks Boomer has made progress is socializing with other animals and humans. He has developed a warning bark about people. I wanted a bark at strangers dog, but also a dog that accepted people that I indicate are safe. While it’s only been about 3 weeks Boomer seems to fit what I want in a small dog.

Boomer still needs to learn about interacting with cats as he goes into doggie play mode and Ash and Smokey don’t like doggie play mode. Tege the cat, just smacks Boomer’s nose when he gets in Doggie against Cat play mode. It is hard to blame Boomer for being a terrier and going after the cats when chasing small fury creatures is what terriers were bred to do as a job. I think the 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months integration of a new pet has merit. It’s been almost 3 weeks and Boomer has moved from a terrified creature to roaming my backyard, socializing with new people, dogs, cats becoming house trained and barking to protect his space. It has not been perfect with Boomer integrating with the household. I knew it would not be perfect. It has been beyond good enough for the new doggo.


Wood delivery and it is raining of course.

April 26, 2021

I got just 2 cords of red fir for this delivery to replace what I burned during last year’s mild winter.  The gal that delivers the wood remarked about how little wood I used last winter.  While it may not be as “sexy” as installing a solar power system or wood stove the best thing you can do to become energy efficient is install the proper insulation and energy efficient windows.  Wood constructed homes need to breath and  get rid of excess humidity but even I can tell the difference of replacing old windows and adding  wall insulation cuts down on on drafts that can chill you despite being in a warm home. 

I have been building up my stack of firewood for a couple of years and the 2 cords of wood I got seems mall compared to the previous dumps of firewood.  Not bad, just not what I am used to seeing dumped for my firewood delivery.  A good thing is it took only a couple a few  of the garden cart loads to clear my drive way for the KIA to get out of the shop/garage. I spent some time getting the gate outside the kennel on the gate hinges and cleaning out rock/dirt so the gate moves freely.  Boomer the terrier twice let me know he is good at getting through temp. gates I set up. Thankfully Boomer likes me and comes to me rather than tries to explore the neighborhood  by himself. 

I figure I have about 3 years worth of firewood  for mild winters or 2 years worth if there is a cold winter. Though the house may stay warmer with wood heat than I expect or I may have guessed  wrong.  I know on average I’ll need about 2 cords of wood to heat my home in winter for an average winter.  Mother Nature does not care about my average use of fire wood for winter.  If you think lumber is expensive think about how the cost of firewood could go up if folks stop cutting firewood and start cutting dimensional lumber! Supply and demand that can be good and bad for the individual.  

Inflation is happing in food prices similar to what happened in 2008 and 2011. Not terrible, but not good for shoppers. While paper products have jumped in price I don’t expect that jump to last that long. I expect something similar to the Arab spring, jump in prices for basic grains and meats costing and shortages more like 2011. I expect meat prices to go higher especially pork products, then beef and poultry. I can’t say what you should do. I can grow a little garden. I can, vegetables., dehydrate, freeze or can meat I found on sale. I have the basics to bake bread but I’m at the end of the supply chain and can’t grow all the food I need. in a year to survive. That is my reality. I need other people around me to survive and nothing will change that reality for me.

There is nothing wrong with storing food now at a lower cost for hard times. There is nothing wrong with growing a small garden and working up to larger garden. There is nothing wrong with becoming energy or government utility independent. I can’t do that but I’ll cheer on anyone that can break away to any sort of self reliance freedom.

The US Government won’t save you. You are on your own to survive. Oh take those Trump bucks and Biden bucks and turn it that into something of value you need in the future.

Most of the tree clean up is done and a doggo update!

April 22, 2021

I think the trees that I have been cleaning up are elm trees. I have to say these trees are messy as the drop limbs, twigs and get all tangled up not growing “properly” like some tree in a painting. 😉  Anyhoo my neighbors came over and cleaned up some limbs and help get most of them in to trash containers to be hauled away by the trash guys.  I traded a little bit of computer work ( software for a home office) for having the my tree limbs cut/cleaned up so we both came out ahead on each of our projects. 

I cleaned up the last of the small limbs from the trees cut around one of my firewood storage areas. While I still have to cut and move some trunk sections all of the little limbs are in the trash bins ready for garbage day.  It is amazing how good it feels to have most of the trees cleaned up and all of the pile of limbs out of the backyard.  I have one large tree trunk to cut into a manageable size for for the saw buck that will be out of my firewood stacking area and then everything will be ready for the fire wood delivery on the 26th of April.  I’m only getting 2 cords of Doug fir this year as I have hit that “sweet spot” of having more fire wood with 1-2 years of seasoning so I can start start rotating dry firewood.  Rather than hope any wood I buy in April will dry enough to use in November. On average I use about 2-3 cords of wood to heat my house using only wood.  But SW Idaho hasn’t had a very cold (2-4 weeks of -10 F.) since I have started heating with wood only.  I expect to have a cold winters in the future so having a couple of heating seasons worth of wood on hand is the absolute minimum for me as I can’t go and cut firewood myself. With this months delivery I’ll have about 7 cords of wood on hand, but some of the wood won’t be seasoned or the wood is oversized and does not fit my wood stove. Those issues can be fixed with some time and work cutting wood. 

Cleaned up some more of the overgrown grape vines. While I think grapes are a great plant they need constant pruning and cleanup not only to keep the grapes vines healthy but given a chance the vines will grow over everything and can literally block other plants from getting any sun. I’m not sure it is possible to kill established grape vines but it is possible to prune them back and cleanup the basic canes without damaging the output of grapes.  Clearing out old growth and canes results in more healthy growth. Which can be a pain in the ass when cleaning up old grape vines. I’m trying to clean up the old grape canes and make room for not only my greenhouse but more healthy growth for the grape vines and sometimes hacking away the bad stuff is a good thing. 

Using 30% vinegar as a weed killer. So far I can say I have killed Morning Glory, cheat grass, dandelions, thistle and a couple of broad leaf weeds I have not identified.  It seems that puncture vine/ goat heads don’t like a more acidic soil after a spray of 30% vinegar but it is early in the spring after spraying vinegar last year. I’m not saying 30% vinegar is the quickest weed killer but it safe and easy to use.  It does not kill your soil like Roundup and if you can prove to me that using Round Up is safer and you can plant anything within 1 month of spraying with Round Up I might have a different opinion.  I have seen neighbors use Round Up or the weed killing equivalent and every year they have to spray more Round up on basically bare dirt as all that can grow is weeds as the soil is dead. 

I spray a little bit of vinegar and I kill cheat grass but I change the acidity of the soil that eliminates goatheads/puncture vine and makes the soil better for plants I want to grow.  This is not a perfect solution  to weed control I just think it is better than killing everything using Round up.  Encouraging plants to grow in marginal conditions is the best way to to eliminate weeds.  Weeds are not bad as the are nature’s paramedics for retaining soil.  You just have to work with nature and find a way for replacing those weeds with plants that can thrive in the same conditions or with a little bit of help. . 

Boomer the dog went for his first walk around the neighborhood.  We only did a couple of blocks but he needs to get out and build some confidence.  The house training is still a little hit and miss but I don’t think he was in a house a lot so he doesn’t understand about going outside on by himself.  Boomer is doing good going outside in the morning as long as I’m with him. I’m his security/safe place so he is not very independent about going outside if I’m not with him.  

It has only been 12 days and he did much better with my Mom coming over this week at being less timid. He has learned his name and comes when called, walks on leash well and isn’t bothering the cats much.  When I’m out in the backyard he explores and considers the yard his place. I’m sure when Boomer feels secure more of the Terrier attitude/personality will come out. 

One of the harder things getting a shelter dog is you have no idea how the animal was treated/trained. I know Boomer was neglected as his nails had got so long they grew into his pads.  I suspect he was an outdoor dog that was neglected but not physically abused so it will be a process for him to learn to go outside to go poo and not go poo in the house.  Overall I’m very pleased with his progress in just a couple of weeks.  Goodness knows that I need to go for walks as much as Boomer if not for the same reasons. 

Lots of stuff happening and new doggo at Casa de Chaos!

April 19, 2021

I found a year old terrier, not very tall and weighs about 25 pounds at the local shelter on the 10th of April.  The doggo was very timid but he is slowly starting to come out of shell and show his personality.  He still tries to chase a couple of my cats but “Tege the cat” doesn’t run and gives him a little paw smack when the doggo goes into “chase the cat” mode.  I named the doggo Boomer and he is coming when his name is called.  We are still working on the house training but in only a week he is using the doggie door and going poo outside if I am outside with him,  but he had  a couple of accidents in the house. I suspect he was a neglected outdoors only dog before I got him from the pound. I’m introducing Boomer to My Mom’s dog Jackson also a terrier about the same size as well as my neighbors that Foster dogs and know how to treat a timid under socialized doggos. 

In the past I was less than pleased with West Valley Humane Society but I have to say they have vastly improved about placing dogs.  I like how you can return an adopted dog within 14 days at no cost  if the animal does not fit with a family/home.  The also offer a 14 day medical care “rider”  if some physical malady is missed at the shelter.  I got denied a few dog adoptions because the Shelter did not think the dog would be a good fit but overall I think West Valley Humane Society has really improved how they place animals compared to a few years ago.  The cost for adopting animals can be a little higher but I don’t mind a little higher cost if it helps placing a pet in a good home. 

I got one fire wood storage area almost cleaned up. I had a neighbor cut back/cut down some trees and there was a lot of debris that needed cleaning up. I’m not complaining as he saved me a lot of money trimming down those trees. Honestly the man cut most of the wood into manageable chunks but I do have a couple of good sized logs I have to cut down to smaller sizes. I cleaned up most of the limbs and cut down a lot of the larger chunks of tree with my little battery powered chain saw. Now I have to cut some of the bigger diameter stuff with the electric corded chainsaw that has a longer bar. While these logs are not huge they are incredibly wet and heavy for me to move around. I have a problem with stacking wood as any new fire wood I stack will be in front of my older seasoned wood from last year.

I will be moving a lot of wood around in order to use more seasoned wood first rather than just keeping stacking new fire wood on top of older more seasoned firewood. I’m trying to adjust but I recommend you think about how you stack your wood pile to use the older more seasoned wood first and not have that fire wood buried by green/newly cut fire wood. Start cutting your kindling now before you need it. I get my cut and split to wood stove length. I have to cut kindling and small size chunks of wood to start a fire. It is much better to cut wood into kindling over the summer rather than cut kindling when you are in a cold house and it is sleeting down icy rain when you want/need to start a fire. You never know if you might get hurt or sick and cutting kindling might be almost impossible for you to make happen.

I don’t think you have to practice being miserable. I think life is tough enough without that practice, but if you want to cut kindling in the middle of a snow storm or in the heat of summer that is on you.

Long raised beds are cleaned up and ready to plant

April 4, 2021

My plan for today was to clean up 1 of the long raised bed to get the “cole” crops like broccoli , cabbages and cauliflower starts in a raised garden bed. Then I got an email from Baker creek to remind me it is now time to start  the seeds for carrots ,radishes, lettuce, kale, chard and spinach planted in the garden beds.  So I cleaned up another raised bed.  Well the last bed that will be for tomatoes, peppers and other hot weather plants looked awful and a bit forlorn not being cleaned up and prepared, I had to prep that bed for future plantings. 

I prepared the beds by; 

  1. Cleaning out most of of the weeds and any old plants.  I got rid of the old onions from last year but I found a couple of multi-colored swiss chard that reseeded itself. 
  2. I used a garden fork to dig/turn over the soil and pull up any deep roots I missed with the initially weed removal.  I think forking the soil helps bring up mineral rich soil along with making the little tiller more effective tilling the soil.
  3. I use a small electric tiller to dig into the garden bed soil and break it up. While my area in the city does not have the best soil for growing plants. The soil is rich in minerals and tilling the garden beds helps make those minerals available to the plants. 
  4. Add in compost and manure: I want to use the tried and true methods of compost and manure. I bought a local mix of compost and cow manure to top off the raised beds.  My hope this hear is I have got the raised beds deep enough so I get good sized root crops. I have about 16-18 inch depth for root crops in the raised beds so my root crop expectations are high. 

I have never had the raised beds this full of good soil nor started correctly timed seedling plants early enough to be ready to plant in the raised beds and I overextended myself  physically getting the beds prepped for plants. I added the last of the pole supports  so I can protect the plants from cold or excessive heat that we get here in the valley.  I added another light to the plant starting table.  I’m excited about starting plants for a spring/ summer/fall garden and have plants on hand that I can plant spring/summer/fall the garden season to maximize production. 

I sprayed down the weeds in the ally beds with 30% Vinegar and it seems to be working killing weeds.  This is the second year I have sprayed and while I did not see the vinegar kill of puncture vines/goatheads last year. It seems that goat heads don’t grow well in acidic soil as I have not found a goathead plant growing in my alley “garden”.  Early days for testing the 30% vinegar as a weed killer but over all I am pleased with the results.  I’d much prefer using Vinegar as a weed killer rather than Round up that sterilizes the soil and then creates more weeds long term. 

I’m still looking for a new doggo but I still have some work to do on the fence to make it more secure as well as some cleanup of tree branches in the yard. It’s puppy season perhaps there will be fewer people looking for the type of dog I want to adopt.  I have to say I’m great at getting dogs adopted by other people as every single doggo I liked has been adopted within hours or days of me taking a look at the dog. While I’m not having the best luck adopting a dog. It has been all good luck for the dogs that get adopted. 

New gates installed and some clean up done.

April 1, 2021

I found out that 48 inch x 48 inch gates are not square and actually are 43 inch by 46 inch for the gate latch and hinge hardware ,to fit a a “48” inch opening for a gate. I tired squaring the back gate but I need to buy a come along/ratchet strap to get that last bit 1/2 inch out of square to consider the the gates “hung” correctly. The gates swing fully 180 degrees and are fully functional as gates that control pet access between the front and back yard. I’m glad I did not have to deal with a new dog while I was repairing the gates.

While I wanted a more intimidating/personal protection dog. I can’t handle/control a 80-120 pound untrained dog because of my disability. I can train a dog but if a strong dog literally drags me via leash, the dog wins on training me. I think I have picked a better set of what I want in a doggo. While I don’t think I’ll find a doggo quickly. I think I’ll find a doggo that fits with what want in a doggo and not any doggo will be wanted in this household. Not met with an attitude of any dog is good enough until I find some thing better. Pets need an owner that is engage with the pet of all sorts.

So I have my criteria for a the new doggo. Probably about 1-3 years of age, medium height of 18-24 inches tall and under 60 pounds as I have to clean/groom the critter and I doubt I could handle any critter that needs a bath if they 80 + pounds and don’t want a bath.

I did a bit of clean up around the yard and both garbage cans are full. I have to clean up the last 3 sister garden bed but I have a couple of months before those beds are needed for planting. The plant starts are growing like gang busters and the cole crops are getting a bit leggy. I have tomatoes and peppers seeds starting to put up green shoots. I have some neighbors that want plant starts so I’ll start hardening off the peas a start more tomato and peppers along with some celery plant starts.

I have not given up on the greenhouse but making the base with lumber has raised up the cost to the point I can’t afford at this time. I have a lot more prep work to do for the greenhouse so not getting built is annoying but not anything new dealing with how stuff works. Do what you can sometimes prices drop on other products when other stuff gets expensive. Roll with the costs because bitching about it will get you nowhere. Just because you can’t afford to do a job today does not mean you can’t afford that job in the future.

Life just is and it does not care about your feelings and often it does not care about Human ” facts” as the earth keeps doing Earth stuff regardless of what the politicians declare.