Getting ready for the heat…

June 25, 2022

Temps are going to jump up to 100 degrees F. on Monday and start staying in the 90’s for daytime highs for summer.  I know a lot of people are already dealing with high summer temps and the threat of rolling brown outs or blackouts can add stress when no one needs any more stress.

I stopped by the local Grocery outlet store and got a couple of items I think will be useful this summer in the event of rolling black outs. The first item is a rechargeable LED bar light for the bathroom for $13.00. I have a couple of similar lights I got at Home Depot for $20.00 that I keep in the kitchen and computer room in case of power outages.  I like these lights because you can move them around easily and are bright enough to work/read under. I can recharge these lights with my portable battery banks but I have not test if the lights can be recharged via the 15 watt solar panel. The new light is not as high quality as the Home Depot light but it is $7.00 cheaper and will work fine as a light in the bathroom if power goes out.  I have other battery powered lights, candles and oil lamps but these lights provide better light for working and if you have cats like me you know flame and cat fur do not mix!

I picked up one of those mini Air Conditioners that are nothing more than a small swamp cooler but I wanted to see if the15 watt solar panel could run it. Yes the solar panel will run the little cooler up to medium speed on the fan with the panel in full sun.  My portable battery packs will run the small cooler fan up to full speed.  The cooler can’t cool much more than your face and head while sitting in a chair or perhaps sleeping in bed but any cooling you can get when the power is out should help you feel more comfortable.

Battery packs and small solar panels to augment power during rolling black outs.  I know there are a lot of people like me that can’t afford a solar energy set up that supplies all of our electrical needs.  But there are low cost solutions to provide some electricity in emergencies.  I love the small Battery packs for jumping car batteries.  These are the smaller paks that could fit in a jockey box and not the larger boxes that are the size of a car battery.  Some of the battery paks for phones and tablets are the size of lipstick cases or couple packs of cigarettes and people use them all the time to power small electronics.  You can’t power your home with these battery packs but you can keep them charged for back up power for small item in an emergency and store some power when you use a big generator to power some electrical appliances you recharge those battery paks.

I have a couple of small 15 watt solar panels that are made for backpacking and charging small devices like cell Phone or hand held GPS etc.  But they will also power up batteries and a tiny swamp cooler. Having so many of these items use a USB cord to power up is great because many on the smaller battery packs and solar panel are now plug and play power devices and there is no need for special connectors or knowledge to use these devices for power.

Low entry costs to start adding power to your prepping supplies.  On average I spent about $50.00-$60.00 each for my larger battery jumper paks and the 15 Watt folding solar panel.  I have bought smaller electronic power packs for $10.00-$20.00 for things like a cell phone.  What is great is you can start small and at low cow cost and pick up a battery pack for a phone anywhere including gas stations. Most stores with car stuff have car jumper battery packs and you can order online for them or check out camping stores for battery packs and small solar panels that charge electronics.  I would add the battery paks first as you can charge them at home and then add the small solar panels as your budget allows but I think having these for a power backup is at least as important as having a generator and the fuel on hand for blackouts.

Of course if you have a few more bucks to spend you can buy larger power paks and solar panels to charge them like the yeti, Jackery and other brands.  Heck I have seen a company that makes a portable 4000 BTU Air conditioner that has a battery pak and solar panels to power the unit.  It won’t cool the average home but it would cool a room to sleep in.

I use my basement to help cool my house.  I have a couple of  big fans that sort of blow cool air in the basement into the living quarters of my house and my guess is it makes up to 5 degrees cooler in the room the fans blow air into. Window and ceiling fans to circulate the cooler night time air into your home.  I live in high altitude desert so the temp drops at night and with low humidity you can use fans in windows to draw in cool air at night to cool your home. I usually close all windows around 9 am to keep the cool in the house. This works great when night time temps drop into the 50’s not so great when the night time temps stay in the high 60’s or low 70’s.  Ceiling fans should be set to run counter clock wise in summer.  The fans just move air and make it seem cooler but have no affect on the temp.

Last but not least get outside and acclimatize to the heat as much as possible.  If you go from a cool Air conditioned home to a Air conditioned car to an air conditioned job with the temp set around 72 degrees F. You will melt if there is a electrical blackout if the temps are in the 80-90’s.   Take it slow getting used to the heat, stay in the shade, have plenty of liquids on hand to hydrate and drink when you are not thirsty.  If you feel you are getting overheated go inside to cool down but try and push yourself to get used to warmer temps rather than avoid any exposer to summer time weather.

Out here in the west in a low humidity environment you want to sweat as that cools you and then slow down enough to keep the sweat going while drinking water.  In humid regions you need to mozy in your work and timing is everything. Sweat won’t cool you when it is 80 degrees + and the humidity is 80% +.  Places with high humidity, people take a shower in April and finally dry off in September or October.  😉

Drink water and have ways to flavor/improve the beverages you drink to hydrate you.  I found Powdered Gatorade drink mix.  One package makes 2.5 gallons about 1/3 of a cup makes a half gallon.  I added a half gallon of Country time drink mix in the fridge.  You can add the drinks you like such as sun tea or just plain old cool water but have liquids for hydrating this summer.  I’m buying reusable Ice packs to my freezer so I can add cold to a fridge or help keep a freezer cold besides storing blocks of ice.

You folks that live in tornado alley and hurricane country think about storing your food in the freezer in Construction grade garbage bags. If the storm comes and you have to bug out all you have to do is close the bag before you leave/the power goes out and you can remove any bad food but your fridge/freezer won’t stink of rotted food when you get home and it is easy to clean out. Put one block of ice in the freezer and if the bag melts and refreezes flat you know know the food melted and re froze and is not safe to eat.

That is about all I can think of for summer-time survival and the things I have done to make the best of a bad situation that is low cost and doable for most everyone. If anyone has better or different ways to keep cool or deal with simmer time emergencies I’d love to hear what works for you in a hot survival situation.


Stacking wood and of course the temps start to go up.

June 21, 2022

We had a lovely day temps in the low 70’s so I got in a couple of hours of stacking wood. According to my calculations I have stacked about one cord of this years wood delivery. Stacking the wood under the carport along the shop is going much smother and faster than I had anticipated.  Getting all of the older seasoned wood stacked for easy access made a huge difference how easy the wood stacks and how easy it will be to use the seasoned wood first this heating season.  I noticed on this wood delivery the wood feels a lot lighter and drier compared to last years wood.  Though we have had some very wet months the wood has not been soaking up a lot of moisture.  Of course sitting in the alleyway the wood gets the most sun and wind the last couple of months so that has helped the wood dry.

This is the year that I seemed to have figured out all the things I need to get done for the wood heating season. It probably takes most people a lot less time to set up all of their firewood needs but I was a bit slow. I think one of my biggest mistakes was buying cheap wood when I started using the wood stove. This has been another situation that spending more saves both time and money in the long term.

The porch firewood stack is looking very good. I have a wood rack that holds about a weeks worth of wood and I have a nice pile of the smaller wood that is between kindling and the normal sized fire wood that will make it easy to start fires for a month or two depending on the weather.  I have 3 more jobs to do to be ready for firewood season.

Make fire starters: These are simple to make with some wood chips, paper egg cartons or cupcake papers and some paraffin wax.  Just fill the egg cartons/cupcake papers with some wood chips and pour the melted paraffin wax over the wood chips and fill the “cup” of chips.  The paper egg cartons work better as the paper is thicker and makes the fire starter last longer and burn better compared to the cupcake papers but both work great for starting a fire.  I use about 10 pounds of wax for heating season that starts in September and goes into April. I gave Mom some fire starters but she does not use them every day like do to start fires.

Cut kindling: I did better last year but I did not fill up my outdoor kindling box before the start of the season. This box is big like 20 inches deep and 3 feet wide and 3 feet tall.  I have never filled this box more than half full!   Every wood stove is different for starting a fire for my indoor kindling I use a small wood box that measures 18 inches long by 12 inches wide and 12 inches deep will last about 5-7 days of starting fires.  Having an outdoor kindling box at least partial filled is heaven. With my CIDP I have times especially in winter that I physically can’t cut wood so having a box full of kindling makes keeping the woodstove going much easier for me.  The kindling box lets me help Mom out with her wood stove.  Mom cuts kindling when she needs it and with her fybro that can be tough in the winter time. With my kindling box somewhat full I can give Mom a box full of kindling when she stops by my house a couple of times a month and she has some extra kindling on hand she doe3s not have to split up herself.  One of my goals this year is to completely fill the kindling box before the season starts.  I think that a full kindling box would last the entire wood heating season and still have a little extra for Mom’s kindling box.

Split the firewood into smaller chunks for starting fires:  I get my wood delivered cut and split.  That means all of the wood is 16-18 inches long and about 3-6 inches thick.  Wood that will fit in a wood stove without any more cutting or splitting.  You can’t just hold a match under this wood to start a fire. That means you have to cut kindling.  Wood that is about as thick as an inch or smaller that you can start with paper, twigs or a fire starter and a match.  But there is that size of wood between kindling and regular size fire wood that makes starting a fire much easier and use less paper, twigs or kindling. These chunks are about 2-3 inches thick and catch fire easily from kindling.  I use these chunks of wood to frame the paper and fire starter and then lay the kindling directly on this wood just above the paper and fire starter so the flame then lights the kindling.  These smaller chunks of wood get fire from the kindling and you have a good bed of fire to start adding normal sized firewood. Super easy and it warms up the chimney to start drafting with a clean hot fire and not a smoky “smudge” fire.  The easiest way to make this wood is the Wranglestar method of cutting kindling. Pick the straightest and clear of knots, and twisted wood to cut your kindling.  Some that kindling will twist or have knots. Once you split the wood and cutting kindling gets difficult you toss that chunk of wood into that in between stack of starting wood that is bigger than kindling and smaller than regular sized fire wood. All you need is a couple of sticks per fire of this size wood to start a fire so the wood that can’t be cut as kindling without a lot of effort can become very useful for starting wood fires.  The great thing is you will split this wood as you split your firewood for kindling as long as you don’t get anal-retentive and try to make hard to split wood into kindling no matter the effort involved.

Jamie, I don’t have wood chips or I can’t afford to buy/make fire starters. For wood chips I recommend farm or pet stores for pet bedding. You can buy a block of wood chips for horse bedding for under $10.00 and you will have fire starter wood chips for several years. Pet bedding for rodents is smaller and more expensive  per pound but even a small compressed bag of chips will last at least a year if not longer.  Can’t afford that,  pick up pine cones in the parks and along streets and sidewalks. Don’t go on anyone’s property without permission but take a rake and a 5 gallon bucket or trash bag and get all those pinecones as they make great fire starters at no cost but your time and effort.  You might be surprised just how many pinecones you can pick up at a park of walking along the sidewalk in any city.

The garden update my bok choy bolted, not a problem I have some bush beans seeds that harvest in 65 days I want to test out that I can fit a couple of plants where the bok choy was in the garden.  I want to work toward getting more than one crop during the gardening season but I need to pay more attention to days to harvest in my planning. I have a calendar that I’m writing down when and what I’m planting this year.  Hopefully this will help with next years planting.

Some ideas planning for the near future.

June 19, 2022

I’m not a financial planner with any sort of special knowledge.  I hit darn close to rock bottom finacially and kept my home and car due to my parents help when I got disabled and had almost no income for about 8 months.  Then I dug myself out and paid them back over several years. I make less than 20 grand a year and live on disability but get no other government assistance. I do have a credit rating in the 800 + range and other than my mortgage, no other loan payments and very little credit card debt.  Yes it took several years to get to this place and it was not always easy.  Though the solution to getting debt free was simple. Spend less than you take in!

One of the reports that bothers me the most is people are using credit card debt to keep pace with inflation prices. I know there are situations to use a credit card for the unexpected bill.  I just used my credit card for a $668.00 vet bill for a cat surgery. But if you are using the credit card for everyday living expenses because of inflation costs and not paying off the credit card every month I think your are making a mistake as inflation will probably get worse for basic living expenses and carrying debt into rising interest rates is a losing proposition.  If you want to see how much inflation has jumped over the years just compare the costs some of my older post going back to 2010 and look at how the costs have gone up and the packaging has gotten smaller.  I know I have noticed that happening for years and not just the last few months.

One of things I have been trying to stockpile is items/food I know I can not get locally. I live in an agricultural area but Idaho does not grow a lot of citrus crops or coffee.  Lots of other fruits like plums, cherries and apples… If you live in the south citrus maybe everywhere but you might not have a lot of ranches, wheat or folks growing corn. Find those local farmers and what they can provide and then stockpile the things you know you can’t get locally once you have done your basic prep.

I’m buying up almost any can coffee except Folgers which I don’t like the taste any time it is on sale.  The cans have gotten a lot smaller but I can get Yuban for $5.00 at the Grocery Outlet store. Mom wants me to pick up a couple of cans for her pantry when I go shopping. I got a couple of large bottles of lemon and lime juice from Cash and Carry/US foods. Is fresh citrus better?  Yes, but can I get fresh lemons/limes in the store in the future?  Don’t forget Lemon juice is a great way to add Ascorbic acid/vitamin C to your canning projects and diet.  Now I did start buying more expensive pet food but my dog food is made locally and the cat food is the Purina UTI pro + which I can’t get locally.  I’m buying extra of the Purina to stock up as all of my cats are doing much better with this food compared to the cheap dry cat food I use to buy.  Some times spending a little bit more short term save you money long term.

I know it is not possible for everyone but I would recommend you get as cash rich and add no debt as possible for the next 6 months.  I’m not recommending anyone liquidate investments but I recommend you have a stash of cash to take advantage of the “Bullwhip” affect that is starting to hit big box stores.

The “Bull whip” is basically the big box store order to much inventory as the economy opened up after Covid and people started spending money. Inflation hit people hard and they are buying just the basics like food and energy so no one is buying TVs, gaming consoles or appliances. The housing market is starting to tank so people aren’t buy large appliances, building supplies or new stuff to replace old stuff when the were stuck at home. People are not buying a new BBQ when the old BBQ is good enough or the old flat screen is good enough….

I was at Fred Meyers last week and they announced a large 4 k TV that normally retailed for almost $700.00 was on sale for $199.99 and they had (2) left on the shelf… Like one of the old Kmart blue light specials!  Target stores got caught out according to the stories I am reading about being way over stocked on a lot of consumer goods and this is a good time to take advantage of the Big box stores now that a person with cash has the upper hand.

Last year you could not buy a freezer for love or money or you got placed on a waiting list.  The local Bi-mart had a small chest freezer on sale for $200.00. This is a thing about these big box stores is they can’t react quickly to the changing market and the problems of Just in Time delivery leave them with minimal storage space for inventory.

From what I have gathered from the economic sectors the big markdown in prices will start around the 4th of July and go into December.  We will probably see more “Extended Sales Events” to entice consumers that are struggling with inflationary food and energy costs.  If you have all your basics on hand and have any debt at minimal levels, being “cash rich” will enable you to get some bargains on some hard and useful goods.  I don’t shop at Target because I hate the WOKE Cooperate mindset but  if I can get something for less than their cost I will buy it.

One last thing about buying items that go on sale and the global supply chain.  The USA make very little clothing, shoes and other items made of cotton, linen and other natural fabrics. Oil is very high cost and that is used to produce nylons and other man made fabrics.  I would recommend you start buying clothing of all types as the price will go up and if you have kids keeping them in clothing and shoes will be a challenge.  It’s not all bad I got some great T-shirts of great quality 3 for $5 dollars in the Spring at Bi-mart.  I’m sure there will similar sales at the big box stores in August.  Have the cash on hand and be ready to pounce on those sales.

I know credit is so tempting because the companies know how to hook you in. My vet bill was $668.00.  I want to pay it off in 2-3 months at most and the minimal payment is $15.00.  You can see how tempting it is to pay $15.00 rather than a couple of hundred for a couple of months.  Pay off the debt as quickly as possible and rebuild that cash fund because bargains are coming.

Three sisters, melons planted, adding straw mulch and solar lights and flowers…

June 15, 2022

The three sisters mounds are finally planted and yes I’m late!  I have about 116 days till the fall frost date so some of plants might not get harvested but I can see if my plan using mounds will work in the side yard between the house and the grape vines.  This area gets a lot of sun but the house and grape vines should help protect the plants from cold later this fall.

I am a little worried I might get some cross pollination with the corn.  To separate the different types of corn I added melon mounds in between the 3 sisters mounds. The melon mounds are Sugar baby water melon, a new melon for me is a Tiger melon and last but not least the old reliable honeydew melon.  The corn is a sweet corn, an Atomic orange and a Painted dent corn.  The squash is Hubbard,  a new one for me is one called a lemon squash and a Burpee butternut squash that supposedly only spreads out 3 ft.

After planting in mounds rather than in rows there is more area in this section to add a few more crops.  That is a project for next year.

The big straw bale cost $11.00 at the local farm store. First thing I did was add some straw to the compost pile to add some browns to mix with all of the grass clippings.  I piled some grass clippings to the side of the bin and added a bit of straw and started to mix them a bit and that pile is starting to breakdown though the only water added was via a rain storm.  With the rising costs of soil amendments and fertilizer I want to do better working the compost pile so my garden beds have good soil amendment every year that I know is free of all chemical weed killers.

The straw also went into the garden beds as a mulch. Not a thick layer as some plants are small and I want them to get a bit taller before I add more straw. My straw berries took a little heat damage so I added some mulch to those pots and to the raspberry plant to help retain more water and keep the soil protected from the sun. Last spot for the straw will be in the walk ways in between the corn and melon mounds.  This is one of the areas I have had bad weeds growing deep and the dirt can bake in a hot summer. The spreading squash and melon leaves should provide the mounds enough protection to keep down the weeds and protect the soil.

I have been adding flowers as well as moving stuff around in the backyard to make it work better with the garden area such as getting the compost pile easier to work/monitor.  I’m adding a lot more flowers and small planting beds and pots to add more color, aromas and variety in the yard and patio area. It was a cool backyard area with all the trees when I moved in but it was mostly grass lawn and few plants other than the grape vine.  Now I have added the bird feeders and birdbaths.  Lots of color with the hanging baskets and pots of flowers. I’m adding some more flowers that do well in the shade around the patio along with adding a few solar lights to start giving the area a feeling of an outdoor living space.

With the current rising costs of energy having an nice outdoor spot to sit, work and acclimatize to heat in summer or the cold of winter. I added a small fire pit to the patio that has a little grill on to for cooking but this is a great spot for sitting in the fall and watching the birds or the leaves change color and it is a place you want to be and not a place you are forced to be.

You can’t control what is going on in the WORLD.  You can control you reactions and some of the area around you into making that area the most positive environment you can create.  Any one can start growing plants even if they rent or have just a small balcony or even a window box.  Mini plants are easy to find via seeds or in nursery/big box stores.  You just have to buy some soil a pot and get planting.  If the plant fails you start again and keep going.

I used to consider myself a black thumb yet I am growing a garden a lawn and helping my Mom who always had tons of plants in her home. I finally feel confident about weeding my garden beds this year after at least 10+ years of growing a garden and not weeding it very well.  The difference is I grew the plants indoors early this year and I saw how the plant progress and now I know how my garden plants should look and anything else is a weed.

Last but not least:  It is not to late to start your garden or growing plants. Many plants need a frost to set the sugars especially root crops and things like squash or pumpkins. Lettuces, greens, radishes can go from seed to salad bowl in less than a month.  I filled a kiddy pool full of dirt after drilling holes for drainage and made that a strawberry bed.  Stores sell planting boxes that fit on the rails of decks or balconies.  You might not grow corn but you can grow herbs and mini plants.  Don’t think you need a lot of space to start a garden.  A pot full herbs or mini plants for a patio is a garden.  Every plant you grow will save you money you don’t at the grocery store and growing plants is good for the soul and mental health.

Lawn mowed, irrigation for garden dialed in, and adding a bit of beauty in the backyard.

June 11, 2022

Finally all of the lawn is mowed. I have about a 7000 sq.ft. city lot and it took me 3 days to get the weeds wacked, and the front and backyard lawn areas mowed.  With the weather being so rainy and then hot and sunny just finding a good time to mow between bouts of CIDP and just low energy levels getting the lawn mowed is a  minor victory.  Of course I did plant a few garden beds during that 3 days so it was not all downtime.

I did a full test on watering all the garden beds today and it went very well as all the beds were water and it seemed most water hit low to the garden beds. I am using a couple of small sprinklers for a couple of beds but they are staying below 4 feet shooting up water. Not a true drip water irrigation system but I’m saving a lot more water compared to using the usual sprinklers for watering. Harbor Freight has a 4 outlet hose watering manifold made of  brass for about $12.00.  This would be a better set up for the garden rather than all the Y connectors I am currently using for the garden.  I love 15 foot hoses in the garden that feed all of the watering devices in the raised bed garden.  Much better to spend $ 8.00 on a 15 foot hose rather than spend $30.00+ on a 50 ft. hose that spends most of it’s life coiled up.  Some times less is more depending on what you need.

I was feeding wild birds through the winter and also the opportunistic squirrels this spring. I have had no luck feeding Hummingbirds in my yard. I have added more flowers and hanging baskets along with moving the Humming bird feeders into the area with lots of new flowers.  I’m hoping to see some humming birds but if not now perhaps during the fall migration the little guys will stop by and get a sip of sugar water.

I moved the park bench to the area that held the hummingbird feeder that did not work.  This is an older park bench that Mom brought with her when she moved into my house and she has no spot to put it in her yard that she likes. So like the chimenea it is sitting in my yard but not in a useful spot.  Not dogging Mom as she has enough to deal with her home without me demanding she move everything I stored during the divorce.   I moved the Park bench to the area that held the bird/hummingbird feeder and took the time to level the tiles under the feet of the bench and hit the wood slats with a quick sand of the wood splats to prevent any splinters that could happen with the old wood of this bench.  Overall the result looks better than I expected and the park bench does not get dripped on like it did under the trees.

I tested out the batteries and the Ryobi spritzer fans. In a dry summer environment these are the greatest cooling fans I have ever used.  A normal 18 volt Ryobi battery will run both a fan and pump that spritzes water via water misters or you can can connect a water hose and bypass the water pump and save battery power.  One of the fans would not mist so I cleaned it out using some vinegar and blowing out via and air compressor. After the vinegar had worked through the fan it started to work misting the water.

These Ryobi fan/misters are a bit pricy at $80.00 but they are battery powered and you can use a simple 5 gallon bucket to hold the fan and pump water. Recommendation always blow out the fan/mister tubes with water hose before use. Have back up brass mister attachments for replacement. Vinegar will clean out some of the scaling and trash these fans can collect running of irrigation water.

Test out your systems.  I was toast on the last hot day but today I did much better today by just walking by the misting fan or sitting down and taking a little water to break to cool down.  Start adding cooling equipment this summer as you can afford it.  Will it work? I don’t know but I know doing nothing won’t work.

Everything is simple, it just that the simple things are hard.

Root veggies seed planted, Raised bed topped with fencing and ice packs

June 9, 2022

The deep bed I moved finally got the seeds sown. I hope to get a couple of plantings of turnips as they mature in about 60 days. I planted two types of carrots, one is a globe type and the other is a deep root carrot that grows 10-12 inches long.  The parsnips take the longest at 120 day but that puts harvest time into late September and the parsnips need a frost to set the sugars in the root.  I added 3 types of radishes to my beds in between other plants.

Even though I’m a little late with the root crops it may work out with the timing going into fall.

My cats love using the tomato/pepper bed as a litter box and I may have lost a couple of tomato plants that I’ll have to get from the store to replant.  I used some of the galvanized fencing to cover the top of the bed so the cats can’t use the box.  The fencing is squares are large enough the plants can grow between the wire. I still have to add the fence top to the cole crop bed.  Once I get all of the beds topped with the fencing I probably won’t need the fence that goes around the garden to keep out the critters.

I am buying up the reusable ice packs that you get for camp coolers. This another part of my plan to keep food cold/frozen if we have rolling blackouts/brownouts. I have four blocks of ice in 3 of my 4 freezer and a couple of generators to help run the freezers.  With cost of gasoline I don’t have a lot of fuel to keep a generators to all the freezer all the time.  My think is if I have to fuel on freezer I can refreeze these ice packs to help keep the other freezer/fridge cold and stretch my gasoline for the generators.

Best case scenario we won’t have any power outages.  Next best would be rolling outages so the freezers and fridges have a few hours each day of power and stay cold. A week long outage or more is the worse out come for me as I have gas for about 3 days of power. I’d have to cook/can as much meat as possible to save what I could in the freezers.

SW Idaho has a couple of cool days coming this weekend that I will use to defrost the freezers and blow out any dust around the coils so the freezer work as efficiently as possible.  Always something to be done to prepare.

Weeding, stacking, cleaning and another cat update.

June 5, 2022

Got about half of the weeds cleaned out of my mulch pathways and a start on weeds along the fence line. I’m pulling these weeds as much as possible instead of using the weed eater.  Much slower process but I hope to start eliminating most of the weeds rather than just keep the growth under control.  I’m doing the weed pulling in sections. I’ll do the garden beds and the areas around the garden beds then I’ll start on the front yard weed patches. I will be digging up some of the weeds to have a few holes for the Irises that I thin out of the flower beds.  My first time ever seeing cauliflower heads starting to form in my garden bed, had some of my bok choy bolt but I’m going to reseed and see if I can get another crop. 

Got another half a row of wood stacked but getting all the wood stacked is slow going as the garden and yard is my focus at the moment.  Another reason I’m going slow is to make sure I have access to wood with the oldest upfront and the newest/greenest wood stacked the deepest in the wood pile.  I made the mistake last year of stacking new wood in front of the seasoned wood and it was a pain to sort that all out this year.  I’m starting to stack all of the small chunks of wood that are not full sized but aren’t small enough for kindling on my front porch.  This will give easy access to fire wood that easy easier to start from kindling.  I finally have stacked enough wood to clear a walkway to the alley. It was a major pain to go through the shop every time I needed access to the alley.  I’m starting to feel a little bit paranoid about someone deciding to grab some of my firewood because it is so accessible from the alley.  I have not had any problems but I think people might become more desperate this year. 

Thunder and rain moved through the area this weekend so it was a great time to cleanup some areas of the house I had been ignoring. The two front bedrooms of the hose tend to become catch-alls or  workspaces for my gardening stuff and not used for my day to day living. All to often those rooms are “out of sight, out of mind” and are not cleaned up as often as they need.  One bedroom just needed a few items put away, a few cobwebs knockdown and vacuumed so that job went fast.  The other bedroom has been my cats Smokey’s domain since she has gotten older and not getting around to good.  In fact I thought I she might pass away earlier this year and I just wanted her to have a space that was safe and for her to be comfortable.  Part of Smokey’s problem was she did not have the potty control and she would often piddle just about anywhere. I covered the bed with a mattress cover and added potty training pads but the mattress cover got badly stained from all the urine. I got all of her blankies, and mattress cover all replaced and washed up all of the bedding including her bed pillow cover. Swept and vacuumed the carpet and open up the window for some fresh air. Needless to say the bedroom looks and smells much better than before the cleanup. 

Speaking of Smokey the cat she has decided she want out of her bedroom and is coming out into the living room.  I keep a little baby gate across the bedroom door to keep out Boomer the dog because Smokey hates dogs.  She started meowing and wanted to follow me out into the living room.  So I moved the baby gate and she is wondering around the front of the house.  In fact I saw Smokey jump the baby gate after I gave the cats their evening wet cat food. I found Smokey up on the couch looking out the window after my nap.  I did not think she had the “hops” for that at her age.  Smokey needs to put on some weight but she is eating better the last week and with her getting more active she should start eating more consistently.

I am not feeding the prescription Science diet canned cat food.  I feed a mix of 9 lives and Friskies wet cat food.  For dry cat food I feed the Purina pro + UTI cat food.  I have stopped the cats from eating any of the dry dog food and only feed my dog 2 cups of the dry dog food daily rather than have unlimited dog food available 24/7. I have added more water dishes including a pet “fountain” water dish that has circulating water that all of the pets are drinking from after a couple of days getting used to the moving water.  

While I want to add the raw/homemade pet food. It is amazing how changing up a few routines, menu and sanitation practices will help cats avoid a UTI or urinary problems or give new life to an older cat that was only supposed to be comforted in her end of years and she is jumping baby gates and climbing in windows to smell the world as she might see some light and shadow but is as blind as a bat.  It is okay Smokey will learn her way around the living room by feel and smell.  The other kittens are doing great but Ash insists on peeing in my paper box I use for for starting fires.  I added a potty training pad to that box to protect my fire starting papers. 

I made a couple of mistakes feeding my cats.  I went for low cost  first rather than quality.  2. I let my cats access/eat dry dog food 24/7 when I knew dog food and cats digestive systems are not compatible.  I won’t say I caused Tege the cat urinary tract problems but I sure did not prevent those problems.  Adding in the Purina pro + has help another cat that seemed to pass stones and an older cat has become more active on a new dry cat food.  Seems very persuasive about the new diet for cats is good.