Tree limbs cleaned up and front lawn mowed for winter

October 31, 2022

I cleaned up the limbs from the patio roof cleaning project. The limbs were on the smaller size but after I got the twigs and branches off I cut up the bigger sections into wood for either the fire pit or the BBQ smoker. Apple wood is a great hardwood to cook food!  One thing I do is cut up the limbs from the trees around my house since I have Walnut, Apple and cherry trees that need cleaning up. I don’t get a lot of wood at any one time but that one limb filled up 2 log carrying bags worth of wood.  Perhaps a day’s worth of wood in the wood stove but a good amount for the fire pit and smoker and that is just one of many limbs that need trimming. I don’t know if many people just haul the tree limbs away as yard waste but I think it worth the effort to cut up and use that wood. 

I had one small problem cutting up the limbs.  My little B&D battery powered chainsaw sort of died. I’m going to clean it up and see if the motor got a little bound up or if the chainsaw is dead.  I won’t complain if the little saw died because I got my moneys worth out of it.  I’ll probably buy a Ryobi chainsaw as a replacement since B&D dose not make the 18 volt chain saw these days. 

Big storm is supposed  hit the 2nd of November. Mostly rain here in the Valley with a big drop in temps. This is kind of perfect for me as I can lay down more grass seed and let mama nature water it into the ground. I like to cut the grass short in the fall as it makes it easier to get the grass seed planted and I can see the bad spots easier. Then I can add any soil amendments, dirt to the spots that need it the most. 

I got the last of the garden hoses drained and ready for winter storage. You should drain your hoses since the freeze thaw cycle can damage the interior of the hose. The hose can look great on the outside but the interior damage can’t be seen until the hose bursts and good hoses are not cheap. This next week I’ll be draining the water barrels down to 2/3rds so the rain barrels don’t burst from freezing. 

A few odds and ends for the week.  The birds are starting to come to the new bird feeding area. Saw a small bird hopping around the rocks of the water feature getting a drink. It was not a bird I’m familiar with like the snow birds/finches/sparrows we see in winter. This was bird with a thin body type not like a sparrow and almost a black rather than a brown.  I need to get a birding book so I can Identify birds.  I saw a couple of sparrows sort of test the bird feeders darting in and out but not quite trusting the new area yet. The squirrels  and couple of the neighbor cats seem to like the new water feature for getting a drink. I got another garden bed cleaned out of plants and I think I got my fans set up for moving the heat from the woodstove to that backside of my house.  It is not really cold yet but if this set up works I need only one standing fan  and that will save money on the electric bill. 

What I see so far for the winter weather here in Idaho.  It looks like the cold arctic air is staying to the west side of the Rockies rather than dropping down the east side like it has done the last couple of years. That is good for the west as we get a lot more rain, snow and cool weather that helps the snow last into spring for irrigation.  You folks in the midwest will get hit with the cold but I’m not sure if you will get the moisture. I know you folks do dry land farming but you need the rain/snow to fill up your rivers for barge traffic along with having the ground damp and healthy for planting crops, pasture for animals. 

It’s funny this summer some idiot from California wanted to make a canal from the Mississippi River to move water to Southern California since Lake Mead and Powell were drying up.  Now the Mississippi River is down so low barge traffic is in trouble. Folks don’t do it! These idiots on the west coast want to destroy dams in a drought and when they don’t have electricity because of some fish.  I like salmon and  steelhead trout but I would think for the amount of money they want for destroying dams we could find a way to help the fish and not destroy clean Hydro power, or cheap shipping by barge for things like food. 

Country boy can survive


Holiday Meal shopping

October 29, 2022

Started getting some of the Holiday Meal items that are beginning to go on sale. The local Bi-Mart had the traditional items like stuffing, cranberry sauce,  baking ingredients. The Stove top stuffing was 2 for $5.00 in the double pak box. Two cans of cranberry sauce for $3.00 and Cake mixes for $1.25 a box. I noticed that Fred Meyers and Albertsons are having sales on baking ingredients as well.

Turkeys cost about $1.99 per pound at most stores and I don’t think we will see a large drop in the per pound price before Thanksgiving.  I know $2.00 per pound for turkey is expensive compared to the prices we used to get but with that said I recommend you buy a turkey now and freeze it and if the price drops you can buy another turkey for next year. Even at $2.00 per pound turkeys provide a lot of protein for the price. I still find good prices on beef, so cooking up a prime rib, NY roast or even a Ham might be an alternative meat course for any of the upcoming Holiday meals.

I’m one of those that shops and stores Holiday food items year over year but if things go on sale running up to the holidays I buy enough for the next years meals. Stove top stuffing and canned cranberries are not going bad in a year.. Plus with as crazy as our supply chains are now who knows if some items will be available at any price. I spent about $13.00 and got 2 sides of stuffing and cranberries plus a dessert on hand for all the holidays. Starting early shopping for your holiday meal helps spread the cost over several weeks rather than a mad dash at the last minute trying to buy what you want for your Holiday meal.

I know splurging for a holiday meal with all the trimming is out of reach for some folks but I think these meals are worth splurging on and perhaps cut back on some other items to make these meals happen. I’d rather have a great meal rather than a gift and in a way this is a gift I make for my Aunt and Mom every holiday.

I refilled my porch wood rack. I have burning some firewood at least once a day just to take the chill off the house. There have been a few damp days that I burned firewood because cold and damp air feels unpleasant to me. I think the coldest I ever felt was doing guard duty in Georgia when it was 20 degrees F. and 100% humidity. Even below 0 temps that have little humidity feels warmer. I added another wooden box for kindling I got on sale at Bi-Mart. I will add two more of these boxes to my kindling boxes as they fit perfectly in my big kindling box. This will give me one box by the fire, a box full and a box to fill, if I don’t fill up the big kindling box. One thing I have learned with my CIDP and wood heat, I will be down a few days in during the winter and you don’t want your down days to coincided with days you need to gather wood or chop kindling or bad weather.  I bought on of those canvas firewood carry bags and I love it. Sure I can use my wagon to move the firewood to the porch but I like moving a couple “bags” of wood every couple of days to keep the front porch wood rack full so I never get to low on easy to grab firewood.

The split fire wood pile is working out better than I had imagined. I will be cutting more kindling and I know I will have chunks of wood that will have knots and twisted grain that will make it difficult to split into kindling. So every time I cut kindling I will add more of those in between sized wood for starting fires. Update on the fire starters:  It looks like 8 pounds of wax will be enough fire starters for both Mom and I since I use less wax to fill the egg cartons compared to to the cupcake papers filled with wood chips. I use the figure of using one fire starter per day as the baseline.  So five (12) egg cartons equals about two months of fire starters. I add in extras after that because in the early fall and late spring you might start a couple of fires in a day to take off the chill in the morning and warm the house in the evening.  It is easy to figure out how many fire starter you need to make based on the number of months you need to heat.  I plan on heating with wood for about 6 months October-March so I need approximately 180 fire starters. That is not set in stone as we have had a warm October and March is the start of Spring in my area. Six months covers everything plus a few extra fire starters for any extra cool days or days I need to start 2 fires.

I am focusing on starting a fire in a wood stove and the things that work for me. I imagine there are a lot of people that are using wood for heating for the first time and may not know how to start a fire which is easy if you know how and very frustrating if you have never started a fire in your life. You may have done campfires as a kid or the Adults always started the fire and you just poke the fire with a stick or cooked smores. Having someone describe what you need to start a fire from the tools to the basic setup can be a huge help for a noobie to using wood for heat.

These are the things that work for me.  I think a person could sell or trade fire starters , small bundles of kindling if they have enough extra on hand. People in the EU are literally burning trash trying to stay warm and I think the USA will see that level of desperation if later into winter.  Make sure you have what you need first then you can sell ,trade or donate to people so the stay warm if you have enough for your self first. Personally I think you need at least 2 years worth of firewood on hand.  One batch you burn and one batch seasons/dries for the next year.

Tools I think you need for firewood. I get my wood  delivered cut and split so these tools should be considered the minimum.

  1. An axe in the 1.25-2 pound range for splitting wood into smaller chunks
  2. A hatchet for cutting kindling to start fires easily
  3. A splitting maul if you are splitting hardwoods. I prefer a small sledge hammer and a splitting maul of 3 pounds each because of my CIDP limits my strength and stamina. If you have the strength go for a heavier maul.  I don’t like the star splitters as they take more effort and the payoff in split wood does justify the effort.
  4. A chainsaw: I have a battery powered and electric powered chainsaw that works with cutting down over sized chunks of wood or doing yard work around the house.  Even if you get cut and split wood some time the chunks of wood can be to big for your wood stove.
  5. Tools for sharpening your axe or chainsaw. Stones are great for axes and there are plenty of youtube vids for the process. Buy an extra chain for your saw and learn to sharpen it.  I need to do this!
  6. Chimney sweep tools:  Chimney sweeps have gotten expensive in my area this year. I did not want to spend $300.00 for a sweep so I bought a chimney cleaning tool for $80.00 from Home depot and cleaned my chimney and my Mom’s chimney. I think the best thing about this tool is you can clean your chimney whenever you want or whenever it might be needed.
  7. Safety equipment.  Smoke detectors place in sleeping areas around the house. Fire extinguishers that are place along escape routes and close but not in a room for potential fires.

I was about 8 years old and went through a chimney fire that was not fast moving but still scary as a kid. So I don’t trust a chimney that is not cleaned yearly. I keep the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors along with fire extinguishers by the bedrooms so you could suppress the flames to get out. Will all this work? Don’t know?  I just stack the odds in my favor as possible and hope for the best.

Garlic in the ground

October 25, 2022

The garlic should be the last job that had to be done before the ground starts freezing. I planted the garlic in the front yard beds where they can get sun and the straw mulch will be protected by the house from a lot of wind.

I got out the pick axe today and went going after some of the volunteer trees that have stared going around the house. The pick axe does a better job digging into the hard soil and getting a least part of the root out of the ground.  I will be using the pick axe to dig around the old tree stump for a new yard feature.  I have a small 10 gallon tub that I’m using as a water fountain/water feature that the critter can get a drink. 10 gallons is small enough I can dump the ice and add water easily this winter. I have set up two bird stands and feeders for the birds this winter if the birds can find it after the move.  I will add some landscape cloth and wood mulch to help prevent the bird seed from sprouting in the front yard.  I think I had some flash backs digging foxholes in the Army that prevented me from using the pick axe.  :/

I’m starting the melt of wax for more fire starters.  Mom gave me a lot of egg cartons for the fire starters so I can make enough fire starter for the both of us this year. I’d like to buy more paraffin wax at $6-7.00 per pound for next years fire starting needs but the rising costs is making things tough. Paraffin wax is an oil product and the price of oil directly affects the cost.

Albertsons and Kroger/Fred Meyers has had Sirloin steak on sale for $3.77-$3.99 for 3 weeks running. This strikes me as a loss leader + and the price of beef will go higher quickly since 93/7 hamburger costs more than steak.  I think the Kroger/Albertsons merger is awful as both companies have bought up smaller chains going into massive debt in an effort to corner the market.  I don’t believe they will pass on savings to the consumer but the will consolidate, shut down stores and try to pay off the debt of both companies via consolidation and shutting down more stores.  Corporations have become to big and to isolated into monopolies/duopolies that don’t compete but set the same price and raise the price in tandem.  The pandemic shut down local businesses.  Are you better off? Mergers destroyed small retailers and grocery stores. Are you better off?

I shop at Albertsons and Fred Meyers that is owned by Kroger.  I’m trying to move away from those stores and get local. Yes I pay a bit more but I get a lot better quality. I’m growing a garden that is independent of the grocery stores. Not perfect as the garden is seasonal but it’s a start.

Did you know that Russia grows 53% of all of its food in small house hold/community gardens? The USA/EU are no where close to that level of local gardening that is organic, non cooperate level of farming.  Sorry perhaps the Netherlands is at that level and the government want to shut down those farms. In the middle of a “food crisis”.  The Netherlands is not a large country yet it is the second largest food exporter in the EU and the politicians want to shut down the farmers.

The only thing I can gather from the policies of the “elites” of the west is shut down everything that powers a modern society. Because we are smarter than everyone and make the world “better for us elites”. You know the WEF, UN and all politicians are not eating Bugs.  They are eating Wagyu beef.

Any politician says you must do a “thing”.  Look how they do the “thing”?  Talk is cheap how do they act?

I don’t fly . The elites fly all over the world to conference to lecture people that using fossil fuels is bad.  It boggles my mind that people buying to this shit. Leonardo de Caprio has a Mega yacht that uses diesel for fuel and yet he thinks he has the moral high ground to lecture people that have a 30 ft. boat  or smaller using to much gasoline cruising on a local lake twice a month.

The problem is not the people. The problem is the so called “elites”.

Finished getting the veggies out of the garden

October 23, 2022

The veggies are pulled from the garden. I have some clean up and moving the beds around to prep the garden for next year.  I want to try growing potatoes in cage, succession planting and focus on root veggies next year. Using the styrofoam coolers in the basement might work for storing more of the root veggies long term in the basement.  The last thing I need to plant is the garlic and I can do that some time this week.  Mom wants a few bulbs and I will off some bulbs to the neighbor that gardens.

I’m still learning about gardening. A lot of what I’m learning is what works and what does not work. I finally feel confident this last gardening season recognizing the difference between weeds and veggie plants in my garden. Staring plants indoors early helps a lot as you see how the plant looks in the early growth stages.  I’m doing a lot of work getting the lawn areas built up with new drought tolerant grass seed. I want to add some new vertical growing structures to my garden beds to maximize my garden space. Gardening is always a learning experience.

Using the wood stove for heat but it is early so I tend to start a fire in the morning to take the chill off the house and another in the evening to counter overnight cool temps. though I’m not trying to burn a fire overnight. I have changed my bedding to the winter set up adding a quilt bedspread and a blanket along with the electric blanket. I have a couple of down blankets I can add if I can’t afford the electric blanket. over all the sleeping set up for winter is good to go.  Ash the cat love the wood stove and often is belly up in front of the stove soaking in the heat.

This is my first year of having a stack of smaller split wood from the Doug fir delivered split wood stored on the porch for starting fires. If kindling is about one inch thick and split fire wood is 4-6 inches thick this wood is about 2-3 inches thick. I use this wood to build a base for starting a wood fire. Two chunks of this size wood, lay the paper and fire starter between the wood and then the kindling on top of the smaller wood chunks. Starting a fire this way works for me. I have seen all sorts of ways to start a fire but this method works the best for me. What I like about this method is when I’m cutting kindling  and a chunk of wood has knots or a twisted grain I can toss that chunk of wood on the “inbetween” sized wood for starting a fire.  It is not kindling or the normal split firewood.  I think this wood is critical to starting a good wood fire. More good news I found paraffin wax for my fire starters at Bi-mart for $7.00 per pound. That amount of wax should finish up all the fire starters Mom and I need for this year.

Overall I think I’m in good shape but I need to get better at doing some work each day rather than wear myself out on a big day of work and I’m down for 1-2 days for recovery.  I’m not very good at pacing myself. It has been a weird year but looking back I’m okay with what I have done.  I can see a lot room for improvement next year.

A mad dash to beat the cold front coming in

October 21, 2022

First major cold front of the season will hit this weekend. Lots of rain and cooler temps. SW Idaho will get snow but I’m not sure of snow here in the valley.  We might get up to an inch of rain and that will be very welcomed by the plants and grass.  Overall the high temps will drop from 70 degrees F. down to 50 degrees F. in a day and stay that way. I’m not sure if you would call this a fall or the beginning of winter.

I did some shopping for gardening supplies. I got a 3 cubic foot bag of peat moss for reseeding the grass area of the back yard. I gave the grass seed a little soak but the overnight rain will water in the grass seed. I have a few spots in the front yard that need reseeded but I ran out of time today. There is another front coming through next week so I should finish up all of the grass reseeding project before the snow flies this winter.   Lowe’s had Mums on sale for 50% off so I picked up a couple of mid size plants for the flower beds around the front steps. Mums can be a perianal or annual depending on how tough the winter is each year. I have one Mum that looks a little bit scraggly but she has bloomed 3 years running so I think planting Mums for fall color is worth the risk of them dying in a hard winter.

I added tulips, crocus and the irises I dug up this summer back into the flower bed. There are many small random tulip bulbs in the beds from this summers iris clean up so we will see in the spring how well those little tulip bulbs did over winter. The only thing left to plant is the garlic bulbs/cloves in the front yard beds I cleaned up this summer. I bought a lot of seed garlic bulbs so I’ll end up sharing some with Mom and probably a neighbor if she wants garlic for next year.

I picked up the last bag of garden soil I wanted to have on hand for Spring and topping off the garden beds. I love having all the soil I need on hand when I start the Spring time planting of garden beds, filling up pots and not having to fight the crowds shopping in the gardening department. Buying ahead also saves me time in the spring as I don’t have to wait to buy when my paycheck hits my bank account.

I got all of my squash in the big Styrofoam cooler with straw for winter storage. Last year my squash over wintered great in the cooler that was in my cool basement that stays around 60-65 degrees F. during winter. I’m going to try saving green tomatoes in a box with straw to see if they can be stored for a longer time in the cool basement. I might have another day or two to finish picking all the green tomatoes for storing before it gets down to freezing this weekend.  The focus this weekend is to get the rest of the garden plants cleaned up and pick all the veggies before the temps drop to 30-32 degrees F. on Sunday night.

I had a great thing happen during my little shopping trip. I have an old Army jacket that I love to wear but the zipper did not work. I stopped at a local sewing/alterations shop with a new zipper to replace the old broken zipper.  Less than 5 minutes the guy replaced the zipper head and it only cost $5.00.  I’m thrilled that this jacket is ready for winter and it cost so little to have it repaired. I bought new a new rain jacket that was on sale as well as a down type winter jacket that is very warm in winter.  I know I will layer a hoodie and this Army jacket when I work around the yard this winter. I pissed and moaned about paying $150.00 for this ARMY PT jacket in 2001 but 20 year+ and this jacket still does the job. I’m still glad I bought a few other jackets that are good for different seasons. Backups are always a good thing.

I have a question about Food saver type bags for freezing food. I have used some off brand sealer bags with my Food Saver system but I wonder has anyone used the NESCO brand bags with a Food saver sealer. The ratings are are all over the place and most reviews don’t mention using these bags with a Food Saver appliance. I would like to pay 2/3rds of the price buying the cheaper bags, only if the bags seal well/consistently as the more expensive Food saver Bags.

Life goes on don’t get mental about prepping but work your plan. I don’t know how you will prep. I just offer how I prep as an example.

Pulling out the garden plants

October 19, 2022

Cold weather is coming this weekend. I am pulling out all of the garden plants and harvesting what is on the plants as I clean up.  This is late here in SW Idaho as our normal first frost date is 8-10 October but with the crazy heat this summer I was hoping the late starting peppers and tomato blossoms would have time to put on extra fruit.  I admit I have a lot of green tomatoes but the peppers never recovered from the high heat of August/September.

My squash plants did great but I did not get a lot of actual squash on my plants this year. I think there was to much competition with melons corns and beans along with the grape vines for the squash to do well this year. Next year I’m going to focus on growing squash and melons. I will buy my beans and corn from a local farm stand that has great local produce.

I have been watching the angle of the sun closely this fall and the space I wanted to put the Green house is not optimal for fall and winter sunlight.  I have to cut down an old cherry tree that is in bad shape but I wanted to give a chance to recover but now it is in the way. Yay! I get to move garden beds back to the spot I cleared for the green house this spring.  Some people rotate crops. I seem to rotate garden beds.  😦

I put down a weed barrier and mulch around the cherry tree so there won’t be as much cleanup for the green house and honestly this area is much more level compared to the old spot setting up the “foundation” of the green house should be easier overall.

I tried the Gutter cleaning wand on the hose to clan the patio cover and it did not do a great job. The problem is the debris blocks the down spout and gutter built into the patio cover. The next idea is to take the big 6 gallon shop vac up and suck out all of the debris at the edge of the built in gutter and then rinse and repeat until I have cleaned off all of the debris I can reach. It will take a few times but this is the best idea I have with the tools I have available. A pressure washer won’t work because of the debris getting caught behind a lip of the cover and blocking the small  built in gutter.  Plus I want to test out the shop vac for cleaning out my gutters rather than using the gutter wand attachment.

Boomer and I are still doing the walks but Boomer starts to get tired about 3/4 of a mile. Next week we will go up to a mile as our stamina builds up. The goal is two miles but it will take some time. Over all Boomer loves the walks he just does not know how to pace himself yet. We are expanding how much of the Neighbor hood we are covering. I am getting to know the local area better than I ever knew it.

You can’t do everything but you can always do something. If it is a healthy thing so much the better.

Got more of the winter prep done

October 16, 2022

First fire of the season. My house has been staying in the 65-70 degree F. range the last couple of weeks even though the outside temps are dipping into the 40 degree range at night.  So it has not been cold in the house but I just felt like starting a fire and see how the wood stove operates after the cleaning and generally kick up the temperature average of the house a few degrees. There is a feeling of coziness you get with fire wood heat that electrical heat just can not match. Oil, nat. gas even propane heat seems warmer to me than most electric heat. Perhaps it is primal in humans to react better to heat with flames of some sort, rather than the movement of restricted electrons to generate heat.

I started cleaning off my patio cover. The cover is one of those metal covers with lots of “valleys” that collect all kinds of debris from the trees.  I had been racking my brain how I was going to clean out those dips without standing on the cover since I’m unsure about how much weight the metal will bear. I got out the snow rake I bought after Snowmegedon of 2017 and used the edge of the snow rake to drag off most of the debris on the patio cover. I used a little battery powered leaf blower to blow some of the debris of the roof but I could not reach all of the roof cover to get all of the debris off the patio cover. I have a telescoping hose attachment for cleaning out gutters I’ll try over the next couple of days to see how much of the patio cover I can finish cleaning.  I found a hose that will fit my home’s outdoor water spigot so I have outside water again!  Speaking of hoses I have started draining and storing most of my garden hoses for the winter.

Snomeggedon 2017 is a big reason I want to get my patio cover cleaned off since a lot of people in the valley had carports and patio covers that collapse under the 3 foot + snow load we had that winter.  Even if I can’t get all of the debris off the patio cover I have reduced the debris that could soak up a lot and I got in some practice using the snow rake. I feel a lot more confident dealing with removing snow from the roof and patio cover.  To give you an idea of how much debris I cleaned off the patio cover I filled the trash dumpster 3/4 full with just the debris.

While I was up on my ladder I started trimming up my apple tree since it was hanging over part of the patio cover. I cut down a couple of good sized limbs as well as some dead stuff that needed to get trimmed off.  It was amazing to see how much more sunlight hit the patio just removing those few limbs!  I have about 3-4 more limbs I feel I can cut safely. That should open up the lawn to more sunlight so the reseeded grass will grow and fill in by the spring.

I had a little bit of shopping to do this paycheck.  Cash & Carry had boneless NY Strip on sale for $4.99 per pound and the average chunk o meat was about 13 pounds. That is about $60.00 – $70.00 on a chunk of meat that you need to cut up and freeze.  I love these types of meats as you can cut up some steaks and roasts the way you like and you save money compared to buying the same item in the local grocery store. I like doing a Ribeye roast or steak for Xmas eve and a nice beef roast for New Years eve that people can munch on even after the meal is over.  If beef goes on sale I’ll buy more so I have not lost any value. I have a Turkey for Thanksgiving if the price drops I’ll buy a turkey for next year. I don’t think you will see Turkeys sold in grocery stores this Holiday season for less than a dollar per pound.  I suspect a Turkey less than $2.00 per pound will be considered a good buy this year.  I am glad to see the chocolate shortage does not seem to have happen in the USA. Prices are higher but you can buy Halloween candy and chocolate chips/bars. My worry is not so much about rising prices as things just are not available to buy at any price.

Boomer the dog and I have started walking the local neighbor  5 days a week. We are up to 3/4 of a mile and this week we will try and up the amount to a mile. Both Boomer and I need to work up out distance my goal is we get up to doing 2 miles a day but that will take some time.  Boomer just drops on to the grass when we get home after the walk but he recovers faster than I. This has been a great way for us to get to know people in the neighborhood and Boomer is doing much better socializing with people even allowing people to pet him.  When I got Boomer from the pound he was terrified of people and would just collapse if stranger came up to him.  Boomer is funny in that he has not peed or pooped on any of our walks. I carry poo bags just in case but I have never seen any male dog fixed or not fixed not pee on things when going for a walk.

Still perfect weather in SW Idaho. Next week we may get some rain and the overnight temps are staring to drop into the high 30’s with highs in the 70’s F.  I’m not trusting Mama nature because I think when she decides on winter she is going to hit us hard with the weather.  For now it has been great weather to do winter prep in such lovely weather.

Mom’s chimney is cleaned and yard cleanup

October 9, 2022

Mom’s chimney took more time than mine because of 90 degree bend and having to remove the pipes to get the cleaning rods up the pipe stack.  I found out you can use the drill to sort of spin the cleaning head around the 90 degree elbow and up into the chimney stack.  I used a construction grade bag taped to the pipes and cut a small hole in the bag to feed the cleaning rods into the stove pipes.  I then used the Shop vac to clean up any creosote knocked loose by the cleaning head.

Over all I was surprised how clean Mom’s stove was compared to my stove.  I never saw how much creosote was cleaned out of my stove so it will take a couple of cleanings to figure out what is the normal amount.  I think this chimney cleaning kit is a great tool for anyone that heats with a wood stove to have on hand even if you have a chimney sweep for yearly cleaning.  The shop vac with dry wall dust bags have worked great for stove clean up and keeping the house clean when cleaning the woodstove chimney.

The other job we got done at Mom’s place is removing and store the small Air Conditioner from the bedroom window. This an easy job that we have had a done a few times.  We used Mom’s shop vac to blow out the grills and filter before putting the Air Conditioner in storage. I think it is best to have a clean unit to install in the summer and not to fuss with cleaning the unit before you install it.

I’m starting the cleanup of the yard and garden but the weather is so warm I’m leaving most of the pepper and tomato plants in place and will start working my way cleaning up the 3 sisters garden. I have one of my strawberry plants putting on flowers this fall, that blows my mind but it shows what a strange fall we are having in SW Idaho. The little Apple tree I dug out that was growing roots under my sidewalk is now at Mom’s place and looking good other than the leaves just starting to turn color. I’m a little surprised the little tree is doing so well.

I finished cutting up the first batch of kindling.  I use a modified “Wranglestar” method for cutting kindling. I cut my delivered split wood into smaller chunks with an axe and then I cut those smaller chunks into kindling size with a hatchet. I try to pick wood to split that does not have knots or crazy grains but sometimes you don’t know how the wood will split until you start splitting it.  An 18 inch x 12 inch box of kindling will last 1-2 weeks depending on how often I start a fires in a day. In Fall weather I use more kindling starting fires at different times in the same day.  In December I start one fire and keep it burning all day. The storage kindling box has 6 inch cedar fence slats and last year I filled the box about 2 slats high and that did a pretty good job keeping both Mom and myself in kindling through December. If I get the kindling 3 slats high we should have plenty of kindling for winter. Mom does not like to cut kindling. I sort of like it because I have to pay attention to the axe but my mind sort of gets to idle and think of nothing else but cutting kindling.  There is something that is satisfying to cut kindling and know that it simple but is critical to starting a fire.  Mom offers to pay me for the kindling I give her but I like knowing that I give her something I know will keep her warm. She has done so much for me, giving her some kindling is just part of the payback I think I owe her for being a great Mom.   Not many parents will stand by and let you explore and screw up and dust you off, bandage your boo boos give you a hand up and then go on and not mention the screw up, unless it is a really funny story!  I had that Mom.

Bunkers and rich folks

October 8, 2022

Slow Joe Biden is talking up WWIII with the Russian and then the Whitehouse staff tries to walk his remarks back. Just like Taiwan and other little statements of slow Joe talking tough.  I’m setting the stage of the thing of Glamour bunkers that are being built in the world.   Their are a couple of billionaires like Peter Theil and the guy that owns Virgin Airlines that have had bunkers built in New Zealand to survive Armageddon. Okay but unless you live in that bunker it is worthless to you. Though I’m sure the guys that built the bunker appreciate the know where there is a fully stocked bunker is located for them to ride out a nuclear war.

Idaho does not get the Billionaires building bunkers/Doomsteads.  At best we get multi-millionaires or John Kerry. But most of these bunkers are 100s of miles away from a major airport. These people live on the coasts so are at least a 2-5 hour plane ride away even using private jets.  Last but not least they are in the foothills or right up against the Rocky mountains that does not have the best soil or growing season.  The seasons in this area are July, August and Winter.

Perhaps in an Economic Collapse they might get to the bunker but in a Nuclear war they have about 15-30 minutes to get out of a targeted city at best. I doubt any construction worker will be impressed with the money if the worker could take over the bunker they built if all hell breaks loose. Most people forget that other people will do things that are not lawful to survive. Especially if the target is a rich person that is not seen as a “good guy”.

This is not class warfare screed. It’s about folks that live a normal middleclass life style. That is poor  moving up to the laptop class and all the folks that work with hands and muscle.  We should not be enemies as we have a lot in common. From schools that teach practical skills to online universities that teach critical thinking. We grow a garden, have a wood stove or generators and yes even solar panels though we know the limitations of solar panels.

Poland just got a new pipeline from Norway and the people in  Poland are burning trash in wood or coal stoves because they are out of options to stay warm. A lot of firewood burn cleanly if you use dry and seasoned firewood. Last year all wood stove sold out. I know my local wood supplier is now raising prices probably due togas prices but that does not change what it means to you as a consumer at the bottom of the chain of events.

It is sad to say that many people only wake up when it hits their pocketbooks. I feel sorry for the folks that live states that did not vote for energy/economic suicide. I think the system must crash hard before people wake up to the terrible policies the government endorsees.

Chimney has been cleaned!

October 7, 2022

I guesstimated the cleaning time to be about an hour and it was almost perfect. It took about 30 minutes of prep time and another 30 minutes cleaning the stove.  What was unexpected is all of my prep worked perfectly and no creosote of ash got out of the fire box or into the Livingroom. 

My first step in cleaning the stove was using the shop vac and clean the fire box. I lifted the door off the stove for better access.  I laid out the cloth tarp, the cleaning kit and the construction grade bag with the pool noodle taped into a small hole so the chimney pipes could be fed through the “noodle”.  

I have a baffle in the top of the firebox that must be removed prior to going up the pipe. This was the most difficult part of the job as it is just an awkward space to work in getting the baffle position correctly to drop out of position. Open up the damper and then feed a pipe through the “noodle” attach the spinner that cleans the stove pipe and start working up the pipe. Once you reach the top of the pipe cap use the drill to spin the pipe and work your way back down the pipe.  I went outside to check the roof and pipe cap because I wasn’t sure I used enough pipe to reach the cap and there was black soot on the roof around the chimney so I knew I was at the top of the stack. After that just spin the drill up and work your way down the stove pipe and remove the cleaning pipes as the come out of the pool noodle. I used a paper towel to wipe the pipes down as I disconnected them coming down the stove pipe.  

After the cleaning pipes were removed I used the Shop vac with the dry wall dust bag to clean up all the creosote out of the fire box. I’m not sure how much creosote is normal to clean out but it probably filled about 1/4 of the firebox after I finished with the cleaning tool.  In my stove I have some loose insulation that is around the baffle. If you have the same sort of thing don’t get to aggressive using the shop vac to clean up the ash or you will suck up that insulation.

I learned one thing about my stove that was missed by the installers and myself. There is a House Air Vent in the back of the stove that is supposed to be removed. This is not the same as an exterior air vent that is installed for most mobile/manufactured homes. I think removing this little metal cover will  improve the air flow of the wood stove.  I can’t believe we all missed this vent as it has a sticker on it that says house air vent, REMOVE IT. The amazing things you can learn if you just read the manual. 

I have a neighbor that was looking for a chimney sweep and she had no luck getting the guy I recommend so I told her about the chimney cleaning kit for $80.00 and that the sweeps I could contact are charging $350.00-$400.00 for a cleaning and inspection. I’m not saying these guys are not worth it especially if you have an old chimney/wood stove that has not been used for a few years. Getting it inspected and a professional cleaning might be the wisest course but if you use your wood stove regularly and know it was properly installed. I think you can clean your chimney and keep it clean year round because you have the tools on hand to do the job. 

I picked a few more sirloin steaks on sale for $3.77 per pound at Albertsons that had an extra 10% off if you are 55 years and older. I added a bit more wet dog food with the 10% discount and Mom used my grocery card number to get some bananas. Mom got a good deal on some pallets and I think the 10 foot long pallet could be used like fencing in a few places around her house. Saturday the 8th I’m going to Mom’s place and remove the Air conditioning window unit and clean her wood stove. If I have enough physical energy leftover I can help her unload the wood from the truck.

Cleaning the woodstove was the last critical item on the to do list and it feels great to get it done. I’m sure Mom will feel a weight lifted off her shoulders once she knows that her chimney is clean and safe to use this winter. I know I felt great after I got the chimney cleaned and did it in a way that did not get the house dirty. Spending $80.00, an hour or so checking out youtube vids and an hour of work cleaning the stove sure beats the heck out spending $400.00.