Heat wave, clean up and prepping for power outages

June 26, 2021

We have at least another 10 days of 100 degree F days in the forecast. While it is a dry heat with little humidity so does an oven. I got out early to get some cleanup done in the garden area. Mostly cutting back some of the grape vines that are next to the 3 sisters garden bed and cleaning up the raspberry plants.

The 3 sisters bed squash and pole beans are doing okay but the corn has been a failure. Most of the failures have been my fault but it sure did not help having a heat wave start building just as I was getting those beds growing. The raspberry plants are looking sad. I have trimmed back all the brown and wilted leaves and I am watering the plants more often and making sure the plants are getting water down to the roots. One of the raspberry plants that looked bad has started bouncing back since I am watering more often during the week. I don’t expect any berries this year but the more plants that make it into fall. I’ll consider the raspberry experiment a success.

We had a bad wind storm blow through last week and while I had a good size limb drop in the back yard my neighbors had a tree lay over and hit their house. It really sucks for them as they had a bunch of the unhealthy trees cut down this spring and this supposedly healthy tree just laid over in the wind storm and it looks like the tree broke at the base or the roots just let go!

I got out the little chains saw and cut up the walnut branch that fell into the lawn. Not a very big limb but I can cut the limb into small chunks firewood in the future. While I had the chainsaw out I got a couple of the overgrown Lilac “trunks” cut down and into the trashcan. I’m not cutting down all of the lilacs as I love the smell from the blossoms in spring but I’ll be cutting back trees and runners so the remaining lilacs can breathe and not compete against each other for growing space.

I got an early start on the days projects and good thing as it was over 90 degrees + by about 11:00 am and the temp just kept climbing! I am so glad I got all of the A/C units installed for Mom and myself before this heat wave really hit so hard this week. I am a little concerned we will see some brown outs/blackouts because of the electrical load with people trying to stay cool. While a heat wave isn’t a storm, a power outage can be a minor inconvenience or a health threatening disaster.

I got most of my small electronic items all charged up. I have a couple of small solar panels that should keep them going if the power goes out. I still need to double check the power level of my small battery banks but I have charged up all of my Ryobi batteries that power a couple of small fans that can pump water to misters which are very good at cooling the back patio.

I have some space in the small freezer for another block of Ice to help fill the freezer and give me more time to adjust if the power goes out. I have a couple of generators for running the Freezers and at least my bedroom air conditioner for a couple of days if the power goes out but I need to double check all my extension cords and make sure everything runs safely without over loading. I’m still working on getting all of the house cleaning done but the laundry is all caught up and I have clothing ready to last a couple of weeks. I can cook out side so I don’t heat up the house.

I recommend anyone east of the Pacific Northwest prep for this heat wave to hit you in the very near future. Weather in the USA can be be crazy but it generally moves from the west to the east. I assume this heat will hit you folks in the Midwest pretty darn soon and you all have much higher humidity compared to us west of the Rocky Mts. Get those ice blocks now and add them to your freezer. Buy gasoline, propane and oil for those generators and outdoor grills and test those items before there is a rush on those items. A small widow A/C unit or portable air conditioner can be run buy a generator. A Household Heat pump/ Air conditioner takes a lot of power that a lot of people can’t afford. A couple hundred dollars for a small A/C unit and a small generator for about $500.00 and is doable given a bit of warning/prep time. All of this prep will pay off long term as prepping for a power outage for whatever reason is pretty much the same thing every time.

A couple of good things happened to me this last week. I finally bought a replacement garage door opener for $122.00 from Lowes and it is the Dumb model to replace my old Garage door opener. I saw my first little hummingbird drink at the little bird feeding station I setup.

It seems we are going to get a long hot summer and I have no advice other than keep working your plan. I think most of my garden will fail because of some failures by me but this heat wave is really destroying my garden. Mama nature can be tough to work with for many reasons. I’m getting ready plant starts for a fall harvest and see how that works out this year. I have some volunteer squash plants that are growing out side of my garden beds that are doing outstanding! Don’t give up on getting more prepared and self reliant. All that you do just stacks the odds a bit more in your favor. If it was easy everyone would prep.


A good day a bad day then a very productive day!

June 21, 2021

I went out to Mom’s place to install her little window A/C unit. Mom’s house A/C is pretty good but her bedroom never gets cooled when it gets up into the 100 Degree F. range. Installing the A/C unit is easy but it takes time to add some thermal barrier and make sure no blood sucking bugs can come in the window that no longer has a screen.

Mom asked me to bring out a small bookcase I had stored for her as she is starting to get her books organized and while I was there we moved a few pieces of furniture to be a bit more functional and I have to say the floor space seems more open, efficient and flows s much better. Mom’s home is small and fitting furniture is a challenge.

I put together Mom’s new B&D weed wacker, that consisted of adding the protective/safety shield over the cutting head. The weed wacker looks/feels solid and has a very nice and edging wheel to clean up borders and sidewalks. I gave my old weed wacker to Mom but it is getting a little old and is developing an unpleasant whine that suggests it could stop working at any time.

I had a bit of a bad day Saturday though it started off on a positive note getting some puttering around the garden beds replacing a bad soaker hose with a much better soaker hose. A little shopping that went fast and easy. About noon I started feeling “punky” then I felt the beginnings of a headache/migraine. I seldom get headaches and I’m the biggest wimp in world as even a minor headache can shut me down. It wasn’t all bad as I gave my sore knee almost a full day of rest and it is feeling much better compared to last week.

Sunday was a much better day. No “big” projects got done but I got a lot of small projects done that I have wanted to to do but always seemed to get pushed aside because “______” has to be done right now!

I finally got my chest freezers a bit more organized and repacked the frozen meats and veggies with the oldest meats on top and newest meats at the bottom. I’m using plastic crates in the larger chest freezer as it is much easier to remove and restack a crate compared to to shifting through random packages of frozen meats and vegies tossed into the freezer. I bought four blocks of ice for my chest freezer as a backup for keeping food cold and take space in the freezer because a full freezer is a power efficient freezer. I can always remove the extra blocks of Ice if I need more space and the bags of Ice can serve as a backup and warning if I have power outage. The Ice blocks will help keep food frozen but if the Ice blocks melt due to lack of power I will know that my frozen food probably also thawed and might be unsafe to eat depending on how fast I can react to a long term power outage. A bag of Ice will no longer be cube like if it melts. So it will be easy to tell if your freezer stopped keeping food frozen.

My raspberries are not looking so good but I think my problem is not enough water for the new plants to get established. I gave the berries a really deep water to get the soil saturated to the roots and I’m adding a 1 1/2 inch deep can to one of the containers so I can make sure I give the new berry bushes at least 1 inch of water per week.

My 3 sisters garden bed has not worked as well as I had hoped. I have only one stalk of corn but the squash and pole beans are growing. The little melon bed looked sad but the some of the melon plants are starting to put out some leaves. My raised bed are not producing as I would like but I ignored weeding them while working on other projects. After weeding one bed several plants started producing so I’ll work towards the second harvest while encouraging the transplants.

Failure is a teacher as long as you don’t let failure stop you and you learn from it. This year’s garden has a had challenges. From keeping pets and pest out of the garden to watering and starting my own plants. Some of those things did not go well but some of things are getting better as I learn more. I have found learning what not to do is more valuable compared to what you “should” do.

Summer is here with 100 degree F. temps

June 15, 2021

The heat has been tough on the transplanted raspberries and the plants are a bit wilted.  I’m having to resist the urge to water the plants, as I have read that raspberries don’t like “wet feet”.  I have set up a little white canvas tarp to protect the plants from the sun during the hottest part of the day.  After just a couple of days the Heritage berries seem to be recovering the quickest but they also had a little protection from the sun.  I have reached into the soil and it was cool and slightly moist but not wet.  Mu next step is to add a bit of mulch to the containers and then just hope my plant first aid will give the raspberry plants time to recover from the transplant shock.  I soaked the roots of the berry plants for about an hour before planting them in a 50/50 mix of bagged compost to organic soil mix. 

I finally got got some work done on the front yard and sprayed the 30% vinegar on some of the weeds in the front yard.  I sprained my knee when I was moving furniture around so I have to slow down and not attack the yard work quite as exuberantly as I would like. The temps have not helped with that as I am trying to get as much done in the early part of the day but the knee is a bit of bother to work around.  Needless to say I have fallen a little bit behind in weeding some of the garden beds as kneeling and squatting with a sore knee is not much fun.

I installed the bedroom Air Conditioner as I can’t cool the house overnight in 100 degree heat during the day and it only cools down to about 70 degrees F. at night.  I know I sleep better at night in a cool room.  The window A/C units are not as efficient as most whole house units.  I just don’t have an extra $5,000-$10,000 dollars to spend on on a new/efficient A/C  installation.  I have been reading about the new mini-split systems and those might be a good choice for me as my house is only 1200 sq. ft. and a couple of mini split units would probably heat/cool my home especially since I added a new roof, a little extra insulation with siding install and all new double pained windows. 

I have a new project I can do indoors when it get to hot to work outside this summer. I’m painting the walls.  I bought up a lot of semi-gloss paint a couple of years ago to paint the walls but the only room I painted was the small bathroom.  I loved how the little bathroom looked with the new paint job and the semi-gloss withstands a washing unlike many flat latex paints.  I’m only doing a wall section per day. While not that efficient of a goal a wall a day works with my energy level.  I’m using True Value paint as I have been very pleased with the results plus they keep track of the colors I have bought/used so getting an extra can of paint in matching color is at the store. 

If you decide to paint in sections you must have tin foil to wrap your brushes and rollers so you don’t have to clean/replace them when the are full of paint.  We are talking about a few days not a couple of weeks or months.  If you don’t think you have enough time to paint a room in a day tinfoil is your friend to protect rollers and brushes from drying out.  Last but not least buy good quality brushes and rollers.  Your average cheap brushes will literally shed bristles while you paint.  Take your time and have clean up rags handy and you will get a good paint job. 

Raspberries, real milk and a new couch

June 12, 2021

I have been doing some research to find more local producers of food. I want small local farms to create a relationship to get meat, milk and plants/produce.  I don’t trust stores “organic” designated products not because I think the stores are running a scam but some producers are running a scam using the organic label.  I can drive to these local places and see the setup of what the grow and how they process products. I have processed meat, lived on a farm/cattle ranch so I can usually see just how well the the animals are kept, how clean the processing of the products is by just looking around.  While I don’t expect perfection. I know about the effort it takes to provide a “clean” food product. 

The gal I got the Raspberries from literally  dug the raspberry plants out while I was there to buy plants.  I’m growing raspberries in containers so I stuck with plants that grow only to about 4 feet tall.  I got a Heritage, a Perdue and Josephine J.  That should cover all of my raspberry needs if the plants do well. While the gal was digging up the plants she had a few plants that had broken off at the root that she gave me me for free to try and plant and see if the canes survive.  Amazingly those canes that had broken off roots perked up faster than the plants she charged me $2.00 each.  The plants are little shocked from the transplanting but I’m optimistic that I can grow these plants and Mom now says she will take a few of the container raspberries for her garden.  I doubt I will see any fruit this year but next year should be good if the plants survive.  I have read that raspberries overwinter better if they can be moved under some cover like a patio, garage or shed.  Big advantage of a container is you can move the plant to a better location around your place. 

I loved real milk as a kid.  It was wonderful to skim off the cream and make ice cream or butter. Todays store bought milk tastes like white water as the have removed so much of the rich goodness of milk and supply a “pale” substitute.  I know whole or unpasteurized milk is not for everyone but I think if you want it, you should have the choice to buy it without government busy bodies declaring it unclean!  I’ll probably make a little bit of butter as I need to rearrange  my freezer space before I commit to making Ice cream . I’m very excited to have a place to buy real milk straight from the moo!  

The gal I bought the raspberries and milk from seemed a bit surprised I came back this weekend to get the berry plants and milk.  I drove to her place and they had just gotten back from a vacation but she was willing to dig up plants while I waited.  I told her she needed to recover from the vacation and I’d be back this weekend after she had a chance to catch up on her stuff.  I think she was a bit surprised that I came back and was very thankful that I followed up with my purchase.  I think the attitude of I want it and I want it right now is not healthy.  Some things take time, patience and understanding about how thing are produced and made. 

Onto my frniture purchase.  I have been wanting to find some much smaller furniture that fits in my small living room area but I was not sure what I wanted.  It silly to throw out good furniture if you have no idea of what you want/how to replace that furniture.  I realized I wanted something that was more 1920-1940ish look and I looked at some vintage furniture websites. Yep, that was the look I was looking for my home.   Mom stops by and is picking up a bookcase and would I like to ride along and give a hand at loading the bookcase in the truck.  Well we got the store and there was an older sofa that fit what I wanted and we can use Mom’s truck to get it home and it cost $30.00! 

We got that sofa in the house with the help of 2 neighbors but I still had the oversized furniture in the house.  I got my “old” furniture moved outside and another neighbor offered to haul off the furniture but wanted the ottoman for the kids basement/ video/game room furniture.  You got to love helpful neighbors!  

It’s a little strange to see the living room space so open now, as I became accustomed to that over-sized furniture over 18 years of living with it.  I have a much better idea to make this a functional and happy living space.  I never thought of furniture as “clutter” but for me it seems that oversized furniture was clutter. 

Cool down and some fun stuff

June 6, 2021

I installed the portable A/ C unit when I could not cool the house down over night. I kept it about 75 degrees F. for most of the day and for a smallish portable unit, it did a good job keeping the front part of the house comfortable.  I have moved and adjusted my fans and I seemed to hit a “sweet spot” using the fans to blow cool air up from the basement into the back part of the house. Not a replacement for an Air Conditioner but it is amazing how much difference blowing that cool air from the basement makes in cooling the back side of the house. 

About the only problem I have is when I sleep as I prefer a much cooler temp. when I sleep, even in winter my bedroom is about 60-65 degrees F. though the woodfire has the rest of the house a toasty 75+ degrees F. I don’t like to wake up to freezing cold but 55-65 degrees is comfortable and with my wood stove that is easy to maintain overnight. 

If I can cool my house down to about 60-65 degrees F. overnight I can get by with out any air conditioning.  But even in high desert that is not always possible so the months of July and August tend to be my highest electrical cost/bills. 

I went to the local farmer’s market in Mom’s town and had a blast. It was a small market as it is small town but Mom found a new local honey supplier and we got some great food. I never tried Chahala Bread ( I hope that is the correct spelling)t Mom and I split a loaf and my gosh was that good bread!  We bought a more snacks and local crafts and it was fun. 

On the way home, I stopped at a local ranch that sells grass feed beef and bought a “sampler pack” with some hamburger, sirloin steaks and a few other cuts of meats. This is not cheap meat! But I am finding the meat I have been buying in stores the last couple of months is dropping in quality and taste.  I literally threw away about 1.5 pounds of 85/15 supposedly fresh ground hamburger because it just tasted incredibly bland.  Like all the flavor of beef had been removed.  I might as well have cooked some sort of Vegan hamburger wanna be meat meat product. 

There are tons of recipes for tasty vegetables and grains. Why are meat and dairy substitute such a big thing for you?  Humans are omnivores, meat is an efficient transfer of vitamins , amino acids and minerals.  Last question to the Vegans.  Why do you care about what other people eat?  I don’t care about what you eat even though you are killing  to eat, just like other creature on this planet.  Enough pontificating on to the fun stuff…

I’m looking for furniture to replaced the oversized living room I bought 17 years ago.  I spent a few bucks to get this furniture but I did not realize how it fit in a small room.  The room is not getting any bigger nor is the furniture getting any smaller. I found a website that has new furniture that looks like it will fit the space and have the look I want but I want to buy from second hand stores or yard sales if I can find what I want at a good price. 

I have cleared one wall from all furniture and I will paint and add some new molding I make.  It will probably bit a bit of a mess as I learn how to use a router via youtube.  Learning new stuff tends to be a little bit messy with a lot of trial and error.  Practice makes perfect but you have to know what you want to practice. 

I bought plants as some of my starters were a bust. Landscaping stuff. INFLATION

June 3, 2021

I bought some honey dew and cantaloupe to replace my less than stellar starter plants. I don’t think I treated the roots gently enough when I transplanted along with the NO hardening off of the starter plants I had a some failures in the beds.  I’m going to add the bought melons and start some Sugar Baby watermelons from seed. The Sugar babies need 95 days but I should have time to spare as the first fall frost date is  8 October. My direct sown seeds have done okay but I’m still learning the difference between theory and practice. 

The weather has been brutal for me. Going from a week of 60 degree F. highs to 100 degrees F. the next week and then a  week of mid 70 degrees F.  is tough for all critters and plants to adjust too the quick changes of heat. I got some canvas tarps to help protect the raised beds from the direct sun and it helped keep the the plants from wilting in the heat. I’m holding off planting the tomatoes and pepper starts until the weekend when the temp. starts dropping back to the 80- mid 70 degree area. 

Mom and I missed out on the Home Depot Scott’s Earth Gro mulch but it might have been a blessing in disguise.  I have used the Scott’s mulch and like the product in the past but the bags are 1.5 cu. ft. rather than 2 cu. ft. and the reviews for this years product are very negative.  From color fading to people saying they get wood dust rather than wood mulch.  I can’t say if these reviews are truthful but Scott’s Earth Gro mulch got much better reviews last year. 

I went to Lowes and bought a few bags of their brown mulch and it seems unchanged as the bags are still 2 cu. ft. and the color is the same as the stuff I bought this Spring and the stuff I put done in the alley way last year.  The price was a little higher compared to Home Depot but I would rather pay a higher price for consistent quality and quantity.  Rather than get a cheap knock off of brand name I trusted because “Marketing” a sale. 

I bought some more pea gravel from the local True value store for the bird feeding area.   I like the rock in the bird feeding area better than mulch as the birds are messy eaters and some seed will always sprout around bird feeders. I think it is easier to spray vinegar weed killer on rocks rather than on mulch as an efficient weed killer.  Plus birds need to scratch among rocks to fill their crops to help digest grains.  I have no Humming birds feeding so far this year.  I set up the feeder this Spring so it might be the Fall until the little birds find this new source of nectar. 

We are seeing higher prices due to some lag in the Supply chain trying to catch up after the Covid shut down.  You can’t just snap your fingers and have new sawmills start cutting more wood or sawyers going into the forest or trucks to haul those materials. I find it a bit odd that Russian hackers have attacked a regional gas/oil pipe line one week and then other Russian hackers attack a meat production facilities that supplies about 20% of all meat processing in the USA and Australia.  I’m not a big Conspiracy theorist but it seems a bit odd that the USA and Australia are  hit with ransom ware attacks focused on food and energy supplies.  

I have been telling people to store meats for the last six months because inflation is coming and  it is here in the USA for whatever reason it has/is happening.  Cat food seems to be limited supply as I see empty shelves in stores that didn’t have empty shelves after the initial Covid hoarder rush.  I am about getting all the sales I can,  but my freezer is full so I’m not worried about a short-term disruption in store supplies. 

Prepping is a process and it is best to identify your week areas before the supply chain breaks down or money gets tight. I suspect we will see some stores rationing purchases that happen in 2011 during the Arab Spring.  But I did not anticipate the massive devaluation of the dollar just 5 moths into the Biden administration.  

Do you trust your government to do the correct thing?