Trimmed rose bushes and the apple tree

February 25, 2023

The last 2 rose bushes got trimmed back. The front yard is looking a lot better with things getting cleaned up. The overgrown grape vines and my hedges (Oregon grape) still need pruning back but that is a big job I will tackle a little bit each day the weather is descent and I have space in the garbage bins.

I got most of the trimming done on the apple tree. A little more needs to be trimmed back. Everything I could reach easily using my ladder is down. Some of the limbs that need to be trimmed back are to high or I’m not sure how the limb will drop using the chainsaw. I have a pole saw that might work on the taller limbs as I will have more safety distance from any falling limbs. Last thing I need is to get bonked by a limb that falls the wrong way. Besides  I have a lot of limbs to cut up into small fire wood lengths to dry out for a year or two. Even the small limbs can go into the kindling box for next year. The dying cherry tree got trimmed up by the Idaho poser guys. I have to trim a couple of tall and skinny limbs and then I can cut down the rest of the tree.

Cleaning up these trees has already opened up the garden and my grass patch in the backyard to more sunlight. I will have more garden space for the raised beds to maximize food production this summer.

The little Black & Decker chainsaw is acting wonky again. I’m afraid it might be worn out/broken. I will try to repair it but I’m not optimistic. I can’t complain about the little saw it has given me several years of work and I would recommend this saw if you have the B&D batteries to power it. I will get a Ryobi battery powered saw next as I have more and larger Amp hour batteries compared to the 1.5 Amp hour batteries I use for my B&D tools.  Every home should have at least a small battery powered chainsaw to trim up storm felled branches from a storm. Don’t go around powerlines but these little chainsaws are great tools for cleanup after a disaster.

I don’t anyone can have complete control. All you can do is have control of as many things as possible and hope for the best. I have over 5 cords of wood and will it be enough in a bad winter?  I don’t know but I know any hard winter would harder if I did not have 5-6 cords of wood on hand.

If you are waiting for thing to be perfect before starting a project you will fail. Don’t get me wrong today was an almost perfect Spring day to get some plants and trees pruned and trimmed back.  Sunday will be snowy/ rainy/windy and a perfect day to clean indoors. Life is what you make of it! Good, Bad or Indifferent it is on you.


Idaho power trimmed some of my trees.

February 23, 2023

Idaho power contractors stopped by to start trimming trees away from powerlines in my neighborhood. The weather seemed a little sketchy with a brisk 20 + mph wind blowing but what do I know about the contract and time lines these guys have to deal with doing the job. I was hoping to get a load of wood chips from the cuttings but that looks like a bust. Well nothing lost as it was a nice to have item rather than a have to have thing.  Great news is my trees are clear of the power lines and it looks like I can finish trimming up my fruit trees before Spring. Saturday is looking great for a low wind day with lots of sunshine and 50 degree temps to do the work. Getting the trees trimmed up or cut down will open up the garden space to more sunlight with out taking out the shade trees I love having in the backyard in the summer.

This is the first winter/spring I have been pro-active on pruning and cutting back stuff in the yard. I always play catch up with keeping stuff cleaned up or under some sort of control. Last year I did a better job with some of the grape vines and the grape production exploded. This year I have a better idea how to cut back the grape canes but I still have a section that is a bit of a mess that will take some time to clean up. Overall this year should be the year I get control of the grape vines in the yard.  I doubt I’m the only person that has an overgrown area and is a bit overwhelmed with trying to get it under control. I cut a lot of stuff back last year but now I’m getting to know the plant and can be a smarter about how I cut the stuff back. Trial and a lot of error was my learning process.

Kindling box saves the day. Mom stopped by and got a box of kindling and a few chunks of smaller sized wood to burn. Mom gets wood delivered in wood stove size but her house is small and her wood stove will overheat the house burning some of the larger sized wood. Having the kindling boxes ready to go has been great this heating season. Having a place to store kindling in a large box filled with smaller boxes has made firewood heating season much easier for me. Before I would fill my indoor box as needed but with the big kindling storage bin I can cut kindling at anytime and have a space to store it.  My wood heating season has become a lot easier since I started making fire starter, keeping a stockpile of kindling and adding a box of wood that is sized in between kindling and normal firewood size that I use the kindling to start the bigger chunks of wood.

It is still winter but I’m happy with the progress I making cleaning up the yard. This is helping contain some of the Spring fever I am feeling.

Leaves all cleaned and more indoor seed starts prepped

February 21, 2023

I got all of the leaves picked up off the front and backyard on Monday during some lovely 55 F. weather and very little wind. I am starting to see some the grass I planted last fall starting to grow. That is very exciting considering it still winter and snow is still coming down on occasion. I have used both grass sod and grass seed for growing grass and by the time you have improved the soil to give sod a place to grow you can start growing grass seed in that soil. Sod is faster but not as long lasting as growing grass from seed. Start your grass seed in fall and continue through the Spring seems to help fill in the grass. Don’t forget to add your compost but don’t add grass seed after your weed application as it might stop the grass growth.  If you need to de thatch your lawn pick a few dry days to do the work. If the lawn is wet it is very easy to pull up living grass and not thatch. 

I got the Ed Humes’s Garden almanac for $1.99. Now this little book has a lot of stuff about when to do garden stuff by the phases of the Moon. I think there might be something to this idea and it is NOT about Astrology. But working with the Time tables of the earth and knowledge gained by using a consistent time line of moon cycles. I like the chore list of todo item each month. If you wonder when you should do yardwork or garden projects this little book will tell you! 

I have added some shelving to my indoor seed starting area and have 3 different seed starting boxes with the small seed starting pots. I have read if you have many seeds start in a small pot you can use garden scissors to cut back the the less viable seedlings. I’m sure many people will say that is just thing out plants and they are correct .  I always have a hard time thinning plants because it is so great to see anything I plant growing I get a bit stupid trying to grow all the plants even when there is not enough room for the plants. The plants will die to overcrowding but it is not me killing the plant so it’s okay in my mind.  Yep I am a dum dum about plants some times. 

I picked up some new onion seeds since my sprouting experiment was a bust. Not sure why it did not work but I’ll try starting the seeds indoors rather than direct sowing them in the garden. I have a plan for build ing the Chicken coop and run as well as the greenhouse this year. It won’t be cheap but since lumber prices are coming down it won’t be as expensive as I thought.  Many prefab chicken houses cost around $400.00 and are made with very low quality materials.  I plan on spending about $350.00 for the materials for the Chicken house and another $50.00 for cost over runs for a total of $400.00 for a 12 chicken coop. I figure i need about 4-6 chickens but the extra space won’t hurt the birds. 

The greenhouse needs a good foundation and I don’t want to rush the building of it. I want this greenhouse to last a few years and if it doesn’t I want a good foundation to build the next Green house. I don’t expect perfection but I do expect something usable for a few years. I bought my Hf green house for about $200.00 so if I get a few years of use I got my money’s worth. 

Two 50 degree F. days and winter isn’t over yet!

February 19, 2023

I started the day moving some white flour into the basement and forgot I had some buckets of white flour I put in an a closet so I moved all of the buckets down to the basement after putting a date on it.  A very happy surprise for future baking endeavors. While I have not been consistent walking the dog during bad weather. I think I’m losing a bit of fat/weight this year and tried on some of my “thinner” pants and was happy I fit some and some of the jeans are close to fitting. I defaulted to sweats/shorts and T-shirts with my CIDP but I want to start wearing regular jeans, slacks and a nice shirt/top going to a place not a store or walking the the dog. Plus losing weight/slash getting in shape will pay dividends in the future.

I got the seedling starting area organized to start some seeds this week. It will be mostly cole crops but I am going to start a few of the warm veggies like tomatoes, peppers and corn to see if I can get plants in the ground ahead of any heat wave. I have bought more frost cover for the frost sensitive plants and I think I have started most of the cole crops to late in my zone  for them not to bolt when it starts getting warm. I think my problem with the garden is I have not got my timelines correct. I start plants to late indoors and plant seeds to early outdoors.  I have a plan this year to record all of the plantings indoors and outside and have started a binder/calendar to record all of the dates. Let’s see if I can keep that calendar up to date.

I cleaned up another rose and some other stuff in one of the front yard beds. I filled a 42 gallon construction grade bag with the old rose canes and there is still more work to do for cleaning up the front yard. We have one more day of dry/warm weather and I will use the lawn mower to pick up the last of the leaves and add them to the compost pile.  More clean up to do on the front yard but I have made a good start on most of the plants.

I don’t know why my older wood piles are full of smaller chunks of wood. I don’t think I selected this wood while stacking fire wood but small wood 2-3 inches thick is what I pulled from the old kennel wood stack. Perhaps I just never noticed when I was stacking wood how much was a small sized. Mom says she will be happy to take any small chunks of wood as she likes feeding her wood stove during the day and not making a huge fire in her wood stove.  I think I just did not pay attention about those smaller wood chunks and how to use them for starting a fire or keeping a small fire going. I have seen folks pack a wood stove with a lot of wood. They have larger homes to heat but I can’t imagine how hot my house would do that in my wood stove. Heck I have trouble keeping the front part of my house at 80 degrees F. just maintaining a small fire in my wood stove.

Last but not least I made some more of the essential oil pain cream as I was getting low and I have sproing my knee a lot the last few months. This cream does not work for everybody but I would give it a test if you have chronic joint pain or muscle cramps for 2-3 weeks and see if it helps mitigate the pain. While this cream works well for joint pain it works very well for easing any leg/foot muscle cramps that can happen at night.  I’m not sure how well it would work for restless leg syndrome but it might help some one.  I’d say try it out for 2 weeks and if it doesn’t help at all try some thing else but if you get some relief adjust the formula for you. I have had foot and leg cramps so bad that walking was almost impossible.  I have a cream you can make at home with a couple of essential oils some beeswax and Coconut oil that could ease or stop that pain and you can make it for yourself.

A doctor would proscribe pain killers and muscle relaxants. But a simple cream made of essential oils, beeswax and coconut oil worked better for me than Hydrocodone. We don’t have Health care in the USA! We have sick care!

Valentine day shopping is not fun. Not a lot of love and joy in parking lots or stores.

February 14, 2023

I love shopping loss leaders on Holidays but it was not fun trying to get last day sale items today. Bi-mart was sole out of the wooden crates I like for storing kindling.  There was a good sal on Fruit of the Loom sweats, so I added a couple of sweat pants to storage. There were some of the Fruit of the Loom T-shirts I like for $1.99 per shirt. Heck you can’t buy rags for that price! I think many people think of only food and water and don’t realize clothing is a need that must be prepped for the future. A few t-shirts and shorts/sweatpants stored will give you some backup clothing and save wear on your “good clothes”.

Albertsons was a bit of a madhouse with the Valentines shoppers. Albertson’s also had Ribeye steaks for $5.97 per pound and lobster tails for $4.99 so time to stock up on those items. Those prices might seem expensive but when a good Hamburger joint meal costs $15.00-20.00 per person. Buying those steaks on sale makes more sense long term. I want to do a steak and lobster meal for my Mom’s birthday this month. Honestly, I cook up a better steak than most restaurants. But I still have to clean up after the meal which the staff cleans up, so there is that. For the same price of a pizza delivery you can eat Ribeye steaks if you are willing to cook and clean up after the meal. Easy choice for me.

Called up my aunt for Mom’s B-day party and to see how she liked the fire starters. She loved them and asked how I made them. Making fire starters are super easy. You need paraffin wax, some wood chips and a small container to hold it all together. I stared off using paper egg cartons but those have gotten a bit expensive to use. I used cupcake papers but it seemed I used more wax than I wanted as wax was going up in price. The answer was paper portion cups from the local Food service store. 250 cups for about $5.00 and they start fires as good or better than the egg carton starters. I use empty coffee cans to store the starters. I have also used decorative tins for gift giving.  All of us can start a fire but having a way to start a fire that is so easy and fast is wonderful on a cold day.

I bought a couple of Half sheet pans for baking.  My older cookie sheet pans were cheap crap but it was what I could afford. Feels good to replace them. Mom is loving the old/repaired new stove. Her house had a glass top stove and she hated it and I don’t blame her. Those glass top stoves are for people who don’t cook. My aunt gave Mom a stove but it was a little glitchy. Mom got a Repair man to fix it up and is Thrilled!  She can use her cast iron pans again for cooking!  She can use a pressure canner on her stove. Those glass top stoves are only good for people who don’t cook on a stove.

Not great weather but I think I can clean up the rest of the leaves and prune a couple more rose bushes. I have another week to get the seed starting area ready for starting the cole crops. Get those garden items early because you don’t know the future.  All you can do is stack the odds in your favor as much as possible.

Last but not least I’m testing a couple of English muffin recipes. When I find the on I like I’ll post it to the recipe page.

Happy Valentines Day and God luv you all!

Catching up on posting. Sorry!

February 11, 2023

I have been writing posts but I haven’t published as I forgot and some of the posts were very forgettable. I’m fine though we had a long week of windy weather. I know a little bit of wind seems minor considering the weather many folks have been dealing with but I have to say the wind wore me down by it’s persistent blowing last week. It was a rough week here at “Casa de Chaos” Though most of it was just minor stuff.

The wind blowing was awful but the days were in the mid-hi 40’s F. and mid 20’s overnight so it was not cold if you were out of the wind. About Wednesday my cat Tege started sneezing but had clear eyes and nose. I read that a humidifier could help with a cat sneezing and my nose felt dried out over night so I fired up the Humidifier and it worked Cat mostly stop sneezing and my nasal passages felt much better overnight. Tege the cat still did not feel good and slept a lot and ate minimal food on Friday. Thursday I was moving wood to the front porch and sproinged my knee that was painful for the rest of the night and by Friday me and Tege just wanted to sleep/rest and not do anything. Even Boomer the dog did not want to take a walk on Friday.

It is Saturday the 11th of Feb. and the wind broke and my knee feels much better though a bit tender. Tege the cat has had some food, went outside and is lounging on the couch back and much more alert. Boomer and I got to walk and I’m a little surprised my knee held up for 1.25 miles though I protected the knee a bit and Boomer sniffed much more than usual on the walk to make it easy on me.

I have cleaned up and cut back the rose bushes along the front fence. I know this is not the “perfect” time to cut back rose bushes but I want to get rid of the dead and crazy overgrown canes before Spring so it is now or pruning back growing canes in the spring. I prefer cutting back now while the plant is dormant.  I cut down part of the volunteer tree in a corner of my fence. I still need to get more plants cut back as well as as the rest of the tree. Overall it was good progress and I’m getting better at using the chainsaw for trimming stuff around the yard.

I finished up buying the unbleached white flour for baking yeast breads and my last batch of English muffins turned out pretty good. The trick of cooking them on the stove top all depends on the heat your pans and low starting heat is not good. Medium heat works best and make sure the pans ar up to Medium heat and use a lid on the pans. Bagels are taking a little more time to get right but I think a few more tries at the bagels will provide a good product.

I’m trying to sprout some seeds I did not have good luck planting in garden pots. It is getting close to time to start those “cole” crop seeds indoors for my area. I have about a week or so to go and then “cole crop” seeds are in the starting pots. In a month the hot weather crops will get started. While people in the north can’t do much with an outdoor garden. We can start plants indoors. My  Aunt who knows plants and gardening stuff recommends you get your seeds now/asap as seeds are going quick. I noticed my local Dollar tree store seed bins were almost empty a couple of weeks ago. Now that my be a delivery failure or left over seeds placed on sale but I think many of the seeds were cleaned out. American Seed company sells mostly “heirloom seeds” and very few Hybrid seeds. So people might have hit the stores early.

I know the USA economy is tanking despite what the Politians say because people can’t afford to support a Service economy with inflation. Inflation dropping to 6% after a 9% is not a win for the American people.  Instead of just losing nearly a dime per dollar of buying values you are only losing a Nickle per dollar of buying value of a dollar that already lost a dime of value and all of this inflationary dollar cost adds up every month.  Remember the things you need to live like food or energy is excluded from the government approved inflation report.

You hare already seen the price of basic food items skyrocket. You have see the cost of energy to fuel your car and home skyrocket via the politician made disater of green energy and other nonsense. Do you still trust these people?

Cold snap hit hard and my Aunt stopped by.

February 1, 2023

Thank goodness we only had a couple of days of the cold snap as it hit me hard. Usually I handle the cold temps well but this cold snap knocked me for a loop.  It is over and I’m feeling much better overall. Boomer and I got in a good walk, I refilled the wood boxes. Everything is now toasty warm here at Casa de Chaos!

I used my Mr. Buddy heater during the cold snap to heat up the back rooms and learned a few new things. Set the heater for low heat despite how tempting it is to use high heat setting to warm the room faster. Low heat over a longer time period gives you a  long lasting heat and saves on propane.  A lot of the heat from this heater actually radiates directly above the heater so a small fan can help circulate the heat. Mr. Buddy now has a heater + cook top combo stove for $120.00-$150.00 I have seen at the local farm stores. With the large propane tank attachment hose this could be a good multi-tasker for folks with limited storage space or need a way to heat and cook off-grid.

My aunt stopped by to get her Xmas presents and stuff I had for her and she brought me a dozen eggs so a huge win for me!  My aunt wanted some of the 15 gallon food grade barrels for her goats when she has to travel long distance. With the water barrels she can take water from her own well that the goats are used to and reduce stress on the critters. I think the 15 gallon water barrels are one of the best sized water barrels for storage. The barrels have a small foot print of 12 inch x 12 inch and when filled weigh about 120 pounds. You could move the barrel easy with a dolly and you don’t have to worry about the weight being a strain on your floorboards. You can fit this barrel easily in a closet as it is not very tall. You can’t do those things with a 50-55 gallon water drum.

My aunt is very sharp on the gardening stuff and she is suggesting that people need to order seeds for the gardens ASAP.  I ordered from Baker creek about mid-January and got all off the seeds I ordered.  I stopped by on of the local Dollar tree stores for some odds and ends. The entire vegetable seed rack was almost empty. Only a few veggies seeds were left but the flower seed section was full. The seed packets were selling 4 for a $1.00 and American Seed company does not sell a lot of Hybrid seeds and those packets are marked hybrid. If you are looking to buy seeds for your garden get them ASAP because it looks like seeds are selling out quick this year.

Are the American people starting to wake up? Yes, some and a few more than I expected if not as many as I hoped. I think it is great that many people are starting gardens and raising chickens. Starting mini-homesteading type projects.  My concern is how long it will last and if it will produce enough results for people to keep it going and improving rather than give up at the first failure. I have had 2 crazy weather growing seasons with crazy hot weather, a dry spring then a cool start to summer then crazy wicked heat for 6-8 weeks then a glorious and long fall that helped many plants recover for a harvest.  That is Mama Nature doing her thing. Will most new gardeners be ready for that sort of thing or will the give up when things go sideways? I don’t want to discourage any one that is starting to garden. But it is a long term project and failure of something will almost always happen and it won’t be your fault or it will be your fault and you won’t know why it failed. It’s okay a lot of gardeners have been there and will help you out.

I don’t know why growing my squash plants next to grape vines seems to protect against squash bugs in my garden. I don’t get squash bugs and the only thing that seems different is I have thick grape vines close to where I grow my squash.

Any way I have a couple of weeks to sort out the garden space for growing and starting seeds. I’m hoping I can do a better job a succession planting and get 2-3 harvest depending on the weather. Farmers and gardeners must be the most optimistic people because they plant seeds do the work without any guarantee of the out come.