A good day scrounging and hitting a yard sale, plus a hot day this weekend

August 3, 2015

I picked up a garden wagon of rock from neighbor A across the alley.  I got many large “river rocks”, five larger sized Basalt/igneous rocks and a lot of smaller sized chunks of petrified wood.  Those rocks complete the border around my patio “kitchen” area, though I will need to adjust the placement all of the stone border to make it look good.  Creating a stone border costs a lot of money if you buy rocks at the local big box store.  This way I save a bit of money and neighbor A saves time and energy not carting off rocks that do not fit her yard plans.  Neighbor A gave me a few sheets of corrugated clear plastic that was  in a trash trailer.  The stuff is thin enough to fold and needs to sit in the sun with a bit of weight to flatten out for my wood pile roof installation.  I don’t need “pretty” I need materials that will repel water and keep the wood pile dry this winter.

At the local yard sale Mom picked up a thick flannel sheet set, I got a queen size quilt and a battery powered camp lantern.  Mom scored some really nice lounge/camp ($70.00-$100.00 new)  chairs for $7.00 each that will be great for a camp or yard set up.

Saturday was a very hot day! 108 degrees F. on the backyard patio temp. gauge and no breeze to speak of. I have a very well shaded backyard and it tends to be cooler here at Casa de Chaos than the official temp. for the city of Nampa. Sunday will be another scorcher and then a massive drop of at least 20 degrees for the high, thunder bumpers and rain.  While the weather is less than optimal from my prospective. It really is not “extraordinary” compared to other weather I have dealt with since the early 1980’s.  I think a very cold winter is coming, in this area and I would not be surprised if we see -10 to -20 below zero F. for a few weeks this winter.  I can’t say what you should do, but I’m stacking cash for firewood as quickly as I can and ordering two cords of wood for the next 3 paychecks.  I know that is a lot of wood and I hope to get a bit more so I have enough wood on hand for at least two seasons of winter heating.

Cash on hand:  “The prospect of hanging tends to focus the mind”.  I’m still working on my Emergency Fund but suddenly I am finding myself a bit more motivated to get my cash savings built up now, rather than doing it “someday”.  In any sort of economic collapse with fiat currency, physical cash tends to run out quickly yet is still valued. As we have seen banks can close for a “Holiday” and I don’t want to be like the Greeks that stand in a line for hours each day just withdraw $60.00 in order to pay bills.

Not a fun idea and I doubt the folks you meet will have a positive outlook.



Great start on my shopping this week

May 21, 2015

Sometimes I get lucky and the things I want to get go on sale at the right time. This was one of those lucky weeks, though I got a bit of sad news about Deb, my beer Lady at Nampa Brewers closing down her shop after a diagnosis of Leukemia.  She had a sign posted that she needs some quiet and privacy while she fights this disease so I got a couple of cards I will mail her and keep her in my prayers. I think she may have been overwhelmed with offers of help by neighbors as well as students and customers. One thing nice about snail mail it is quiet compared to all the electronic and phone ringing!  I am lucky that Nampa has another Brew shop I can get supplies at though cheaper, it is not quite as personal as going to Deb’s shop.

So onto the shopping, which is sort of tied into going to the new brew shop and picking up 50 pounds of 2 row malt.  There is a small second hand store next to the brew shop and they had a small camp chair I wanted for the BOV and it cost a whole $3.00!  Harbor Freight has a 4ft. x 6ft welding blanket rated for 1000 degree F. that I want for additional heat/fire protection with my little camp stove and it is only $17.99 with coupon.  I know the welding blanket is not a replacement for proper hearth but I figure it will give me more options in a Bug out situation.

I got a few bone less beef round steaks and a roast at Paul’s market for $2.88 and $2.68 per pound. I went to chicken and pork when beef got so expensive that eating hamburger seemed to be a treat. Overall pork prices stayed fairly low the last 12 months in this area except for bacon. Now even bacon is coming down in cost, Cash & Carry has 5 pounds of bacon for $11.95 for a per pound cost of $2.39.  Cash & Carry has a great buy on frozen chicken quarters for 50 cents a pound for 40 pounds. That is a lot of chicken but that amount should let me get through this “bird flu” thing hitting the mid west and avoid paying through the nose for chicken later this year.

Home depot and lowes have a good memorial day sale on lawn and garden stuff.  Lowe’s has a good wood  mulch $2.00 per 2 cubic foot bag and Home depot has the Scott’s earth grow mulch for $2.50 per 2 cubic foot bag.  I prefer the Scott’s Earthgro mulch as it seems to cover a bit more area per bag and I like the color of the Scott’s brown mulch. Personal preference on my part but I’m willing to pay an extra 50 cents per bag for the Scott’s earthgro mulch.  Home depot has a roll of 40 inch high and 25 foot long green plastic garden fence for $7.98 per roll. I’ll need about 4 rolls to keep Mom’s chickens out of my raised beds. But I think I can use a some of my scrap lumber to setup a the temporary fence around the beds.  Mom’s chickens are well fed and sort of lazy so a simple barrier fence should work. Home depot has concrete blocks for a $1.49 each and some rock I want to test in my alley 4 bags .5 cubic feet for  $10.00.

Unlike some people (non-preppers) who seem to think that prepping costs a lot of money. I find I save a lot of money as I buy items that are “loss leaders” on sale and I can adapt quickly to changes in food costs yet still maintain a good diet.  When you start doing something new there is usually an initial investment you must pay for up front,  but in the long run you can save a lot of money.  What I have found out about prepping food is once you have about 3-6 months of the basics you can start buying only the items that are on sale and you will need in the future.  There is an ebb and flow to prices based on supply and demand. The price of an item jumps up for some reason, a bunch of people want that price and start growing that item and then there is an over supply and the price drops. What you have to do is buy on those dips and have plenty on hand when the price spikes then reload on the dip in price.  I always start to worry when the PTBs say don’t worry. There will be plenty of turkey this November, though at a slightly higher cost. Well if turkey goes up to $2.00 – $4.00 per pound I can imagine there will be plenty of turkey available as most people won’t pay $40.00 + for a 15 pound frozen bird. I think if things work out as I suspect and the economy does not melt down this fall, we may see great sale prices on frozen turkey after the 1st of the year.

Prepping in many ways is similar to being in a small boat at sea. If a storm is coming you have two choices, get out of the way or run before the storm. Either way you are going to get wet!

Tuesday was my prepping day and I sort of dropped the ball as I wanted to do a local HAM radio net call and Spaced it. I did get out all radios and got them recharged.

D-day/Divorce court day for Mom is this Friday. So far I do not seemed to be required to go to court unless Mom’s lawyer tries and works on the judge’s sympathy of me being a disable vet.  What I have heard about will happen both will be less than happy with the settlement but over all I think it will be the best outcome for both of them.  I worry a bit about Mom as she seems bound and determined to move out as quickly as possible. I have no problem with her taking her time and finding the place she really wants rather than the first available that might work financially.  It is sort of funny that she raised me to value myself as a human being and she often does the opposite with herself. Oh don’t get me wrong, I’m way less than perfect and I work very hard to make up what I lack but I think I’m a fairly descent human being to be around. I sometimes think I’m the only person in Mom’s life that valued/accepted her as she is, simply because she is a darn good person. Just a human doing the very best they can in all situations. Perfect, no just human and the last perfect person was hung on a cross and I don’t need that in my life.

People are are just people, Goodness knows I bought into the debt and death paradigm.  I’ve “screwed the pooch” many times and I’m still learning stuff especially after I have screwed up.  God did not give me CIDP because he hated me, at best it is part of a flawed human condition at worst God made me wake up to my screwing up by the numbers.  Either way I have changed and have become a better person I hope! I certainly have less stress in my life.


I got a start on cleaning up the front lawn and working on the basic gardening layout

March 29, 2015

Oh my gosh! I am sore and tired, but I got a lot done on the front yard.  I have to do my work in sections. This weekend’s  job was cleaning up half of the front yard, aerating the soil,  adding fertilizer, new grass seed and wood mulching one rose bed.  When I started adding wood mulch last year I was mostly interested in killing weeds and making the raised bed garden area look nice.  I was amazed by how much water was retained by my back yard even in areas that did not have mulch. Adding mulch in sections can have a huge impact on yard and garden water usage, though I don’t care for the “rubber” mulch as it does not add nutrients to the soil. Since my soil is compacted clay adding any natural material from sand to straw and wood chips will help nourish the soil as start loosening the clay so the bugs and stuff can do their magic.

Aerating the soil via the hand tool sucks, but is doable especially in sections. If you need to do a good size yard I recommend you go to a tool rental place and get a tool that will do the whole yard in less than a day. Unless working hard at poking holes in dirt is your idea of fun, aerating a good size lawn is a lot of tedious work!  I de-thatch the lawn though from what I have read doing it spring is contra-indicated and fall is a better time to de-thatch a healthy lawn. My lawn is not healthy so I figure I might as well try to save it via de-thatching and adding grass seed in hopes I can save it! Unless your lawn is really bad, a garden rake might be a better choice in spring time.

I added more grass seed and the weed & feed to the lawn via one of those little hand spreaders. My hands lack of strength and coordination that little spreader is very difficult to use on anything but a small job. Thankfully the local True Value store had a rolling spreader on sale for only $35.00.  I figure it will save a lot of my physical energy and effort improving the soil in the future.  I think and Mom agrees the finished section of front yard looks much better/cleaner and even the grass seem to have perked up in the last couple of days.  I planted the peas and have the seeds for the front garden beds ready to go  for cold weather plants Monday.  My aunt “G” is a gardening “godess” and she says she was impressed by how good my yard and garden beds are starting to look.  She knows how much work goes into soil repair as well as upkeep.

I finally got a batch of beer made instead of just thinking about it.  Jumping over the pekes in the kitchen,  waiting for snacks/dinner added a bit to the challenge.  Overall it is good to see the old dogs with a good appetite even though they can be underfoot.  I picked up some pork  country style ribs and a nice pork rib roast at Pauls.  Albertsons has some very good buys till Tuesday on Hamberger 73%/23% for $2.49 per pound sold in 3 pound chubs. 21/25 count shrimp for $6.99 per pound , Bacon for $2.99 per pound bought in a 3 pound pack. A few other processed/ dehydrated foods are quite cheap and you should get the circular before you go shopping. I think the Idaho brand flavored potatoes are quite good tasting and four serving for 25 cents is a a steal. These potatoes will work great for camping or add a major break/food fatigue via eating  “bulk rice& beans” every meal. I can say after a hard days work you won’t want to wait for even the 10 minutes to cook pasta never mind rice or beans. These dehydrated potato paks only requre boiling water and sit 2 minutes no heat after the mix is added to water.

I think it is great than many people want “real food”. But MRE’s are just chock full of preservative and chemicals and probably worse compared to an off the shelf product at your local mega-mart.  If you are storing MRE’s for a disaster, that is fine but you sure as heck aren’t going natural or Organic. Since you are not doing either of those things you might as well buy dehydrated potatoes when they are on sale!

I’m excited to do my shopping on Wednesday

December 16, 2014

Not doing much food shopping though Cash & Carry has the boneless pork loin roasts for $1.88 a pound. I will stop by the Asian grocery store and pick up the marinade for pork and seeds. I saw a food tray made up of pork and seeds and thought it would make a nice change from your average meat or veggie tray for Xmas snacking. I can cook up the pork the day before on the rotisserie and stash the tray in the fridge.  I have all of the other Holiday foods on hand for Xmas.

I pick up the reciprocating saw and the plunge router off layaway at the pawn shop. I will stop by lowes and pick up a couple saw blades for the plumbing work and a wood blade to clean up the hole I cut in the chicken house.  I found a small leak in a pipe coming off the hot water tank but the leak is behind some sheet rock. I should be able to make a small hole in the sheet rock and wrap that pipe with some repair tape for a temporary fix. I was warned that the plastic pipe used in the house would eventually fail so the leak is not a big surprise. While I’m at lowes I will get some prices on replacing all those water supply pipes and the tools needed for doing the job next year. I have to get a bit of advice on how to install the ABS drain pipe for the washer. I would prefer to install the pipe with compression/threaded fittings rather than gluing the pipe so I can have easy access to clean any clogs.  I want to make everything I repair as neat and easy for future repairs even if it costs a bit more money up front, it should payoff in the long run.  I don’t think I’m getting cocky about taking on these repairs as most are fairly simple and straight forward if not always easy. I have done some work repairing pipes under my kitchen sink and replaced a drain so I’m feeling confident I can handle these repairs with a bit of knowledge.

Got a hold of the beekeeper and he will sell me a 10 pound block of wax for $50.00.  I will have to do another cleaning but that is simple and easy to do even if it is not fast. That 10 pounds of wax will give me plenty for making my pain salve and dry skin salve as well as some wax for Mom to start her candle making hobby. Beeswax candles tend to burn longer than other types of candles. Silicone pans for making candies work great for small chunks of clean beeswax that weigh between 1-2 oz. My aunt told me that clean beeswax is a very popular product at the Farmer’s Market and you can get a very good price selling it in units as small as an oz. Perhaps clean beeswax can be a good trade or barter item.

Critter update: Mom wants to start letting the chickens free range in the backyard. She thinks the birds are good knowing the chicken house is their “safe place”. We will have to see how Diana the peke and Smokey the cat react to the birds being out and about in the backyard. Mom had one of her older hens die this last week. The hen was over 8 years old so it wasn’t unexpected. There is another hen that is about the same age that may not make it through the winter but Mom wants to give her a chance.  Mom is not overly sentimental about the hens but these “hens” were a gift from her sister to start her flock so they are the flock “matriarchs” and sort of special.

A few odds and ends. The black belma ale turned out great if I do say so myself. The amber lager was very popular and I need to make another batch that should be ready by New Year’s Eve. Using the “Brew in a Bag” method I have found letting the grains steep/mash for 90 minutes works better than the average 60 minutes when you mash out, since you don’t actually mash out. The BIAB method is a sort of like creating a giant teabag for your grains and while a bit slower, it is a lot cheaper on equipment to buy, compared to most all-grain brewing methods.



Mom’s move is done, the chickens seem to like their new house

December 8, 2014

Mom finished getting the last few items from Dad’s house. The only things that are left are the big items like the boat and camper that must wait until the divorce is final.  I hope both of them will feel better since there won’t be that on going emotional storm.  A little distance might ease some of the hurt feelings but who knows what will happen.

The chickens seem to like the new chicken house and are settling in nicely. Mom had only one of the older hens she needed to put into the house tonight. She is a hen that is sort of being picked on by the flock so finding her outside wasn’t a huge surprise.  I’m no expert on chickens but it seems that most of the flock are adapting well and seem less stressed. Several of the hens were up on the roost bar and did not “freak out” when I went in to close the door. Mom added a bit more sand to the kennel/run area to help with drainage along with fresh hay so the chickens have a nice bit of stuff to scratch in. The weather has been very warm and I have seen some lady bugs out and about. I’m sure the other bugs are out so the chickens are augmenting their diet. Hopefully we can let the birds do some free ranging in the backyard while it is warm.  We need too add another roost lower to the floor of the chicken house and Mom wants to add some insulation eventually, but over all I think the chickens will be happy with the new setup.

Today I was a bit surprised that my muscles were not that sore today. Of course my “bad” knee made up for that lack in the pain department. Not too surprising as most of the work I did on the chicken house was done by squatting and that is hard on my knees. Last night I gave myself a good rub down with the pain salve and it really helped with the pain from muscle soreness as well as the joints. Tonight I made a double batch of the pain salve and gave Mom 2 jars and kept 3 for myself. I have to call the local beekeeper and get another chunk of beeswax.  He sells the wax in 10-18 pound chunks so the up front cost is high but I had just over a pound of the wax and it it made several batches of pain and the dry skin salve.  A little beeswax goes a long way. Mom is interested in learning to make beeswax candles and I think my aunt will be interested in buying some clean beeswax from me this spring so I can defray the up front cost in a couple of months.

I got everything prepped for making some of the black ale on Tuesday. I don’t need to add humidity to the house as Mom set up a small humidifier in the living room. But humidity is a bonus making beer and I bet the chickens will like the extra grain which saves on feed costs. It is fascinating to me how you can use and reuse items that sort of feed another area of self sufficiency. Like how used beer grains can be used to feed life stock or go into the compost and super charge the heat process to break down your browns. Or how you can use free ranging chickens to work the soil and till your garden as well as insect control in your backyard.

I’m slowly getting into the idea of perma-culture and I really love the concept of a food forest.  While I have a few limitations on what I can do here at Casa de Chaos there are many ideas that I can try out and see how I can work with Mama Nature in making an attractive yard that will be sustainable long term.

Last but not least I added a few items that might work for the Mom’s pekes and Smokey the cat. I made a small ramp to help the pekes up a step by the doggie door.  It seems the the wood was just a little slick and made the older dogs scared. I got a small carpet at the Dollartree and the dogs have more secure footing using the ramp.  I also picked up a couple of small pillow covers and the have been kitty tested and approved by Smokey the cat!  I found out today we  have a Harbor Freight store moving into to old Big Lot’s store front.  With my 2015 goals of getting tools this is good news.

Gutters cleaned, mowed up leaves and Mom doing some cleaning therapy

November 30, 2014

Cold and clear today and the good neighbor N. came over to clean the gutters in return for some beer and some mill ends for their fire pit. N. blew some of the leaves off my patio cover with the leaf blower. He really liked the new ladder since we can use it in A-frame mode ad it is tall enough to reach the roof.  The ladder can sit on solid/level concrete so that makes it a lot safer to use. Fred Meyers has the “Cosco” 5-1 ladder on sale this week for $129.00. I know it it is a little more expensive than some ladders but with all the positions and ease of use I think it is a great value.  N. brought my leaf blower so I got to clean my patio and moved a few of the items of Mom’s that sort of spilled over after running out of shop space. I moved Mom’s parkbench and got things so we can walk through as well as move stuff in the next week or two.  I think both Mom and I are a little burned out on that whole idea of lifting, moving and arraigning things for awhile.

I got the backyard mowed, mostly picking up leaves and added the leaf mulch to the small raised beds. I have my tall raised bed with a couple of plants that need to be pulled and add some straw and leaf mulch as cover. I ran out of trash bins and for tomato vines I feel a better throwing them away instead of adding them to the compost pile. I finished up the little doggie ramp for the dogs to navigate the step up into the house.  I’m kind of proud how well the little ramp works and looks as one of my first carpentry jobs with what is on hand and my own imagination. What I like the most is the little ramp is completly out of the way for us humans so we should not have any twisted ankles or falls from any missteps via the ramp.  Mom’s pekes are starting to settle in, but it kind of tough on the old dogs to adapt to a new home when they are short of sight and hard of hearing.  I believe that animals pick up on stress and they will get emotional charged when their humans are unhappy. These poor pekes have been under a lot of stress with the divorce and the move so it will take a few days for them to settle in.  Over all I’m surprised the pekes are starting to adapt after a day and we have got 3 eggs from the chickens in just two days including the move and roosting in small sheds in the kennel. I hope in another day or two, we can let the birds out to free-range a bit in the backyard. Overall the chickens seem happy and are showing very few signs of stress.

While I was out mowing leaves and helping a little with the gutter cleaning, Mom went on a cleaning binge in my house.  My kerosene lamp globes are not only dusted but cleaned as well as several my windows.  The big bathroom has been cleaned and disinfected within an inch of it’s life! I feel a little guilty, but for Mom cleaning is therapeutic. It is her way to exert a little control over her environment and it makes her happy to putter that way. Plus she is helping me in a sort of payback of taking her in. So it is something she needs to do for me.  I’m loving it! I can go do the yard work, make little doggie ramps and my home is clean I’m happy.

I don’t think many “folks” can adapt to a change in status. I believe if you are considering some sort of survival family or group you need to understand people’s strengths and weaknesses and let them do what they are best at.  A couple years back I did a post about a survival resume https://myadventuresinselfreliance.wordpress.com/?s=resume Now I did the resume from my point of view and bugging out. But you might want to consider the value of people and their skill sets. Perhaps you think anyone can bake, cook, clean or do a bit basic carpentry and plumbing.  How does your survival resume look and what are your skill sets?

Brining the turkey, finished the last of the chicken coop prep

November 25, 2014

I’m using brown sugar this year in the Apple cider brine. I think it might add a subtle enhancement to the BBQ turkey.  If your turkey is still frozen you can speed up the thawing of the bird by putting it a food safe bucket filled with cool water and set it in the fridge.  Having your turkey still frozen when you try to cook it is a disaster waiting to happen! I have a couple of new gadgets to try out on this meal. I can go back to using the coffee grinder for coffee since I got a neat battery powered pepper grinder at a yard sale that holds a lot of spice for my new spice grinder. I have a spice mix for rotisserie chicken that I will use as the dry rub on the turkey.

Since I have most of the stuff needed for the outdoor kitchen next year I might try a deep fried turkey. I don’t know if this happens to other preppers as they get stuff, sometimes I suddenly realize that I have many more options because of the equipment I buy. While the outdoor propane burners were bought for canning and beer making in the summer there is no reason why I can’t use it for deep frying a turkey. Alton Brown did a show on food network using an A-frame ladder so you could lower the turkey from a safe distance and not worry about the oil splashing out and burning you. Guess what I just bought such a ladder!  The safety factor has kept me from doing a deep fried turkey in the past, but now that I have the tools it might be an interesting food experiment.

I went ahead and removed one section of the compost bin and moved the small pile of compost to the main bin. The deepest part of the compost pile is staying hot which sort of surprised me after the little cold snap we had this month. The spent beer grains sort of super charged the compost pile and I still have plenty of leaves for the browns. With the leftover beer grains the chickens don’t eat, it might be possible to keep the compost pile warm and working this winter.  Moving the pile will give me more room for the kennel/chicken run. Mom said the chickens might tear up that part of the yard but I think they will be a great help on working the soil, garden beds and compost pile free ranging in the backyard this winter.  The chickens will spend about a week in the kennel/run and a small chicken house until the shed is built. The weather forcast is for warm temps but a bit of rain. I think we might have to use a few tarp to the kennel walls in order to keep them dry. I thank God for that warmer weather we needed it!  A big plus from my point of view is I get a free education about chickens that I can use for starting my own small flock in the future.

Dad drove by and saw the holly branch pile I made and sent me a text that was thinking a few branches hauled to the dump not a whole forest.  Exaggerations aside I have to say the holly branches do make a formidable fence/windbreak when stacked up. If he has enough room in the trash trailer to haul some of the branches away great! Otherwise I will work on cutting and throwing a few branches each week in the garbage bins. The alley area looks much better so I should not get a nasty gram from the city and Mom has a place to park her vehicle out back.  I have figured out a solution for my slash pile from the mill end dump and once the chicken shed is in place I can re stack the mill ends against the shed for a little insulation for the chickens and Mom can park her Ford sort of under the carport. The overhead cover might help keep at least the front windshield clear of frost and snow this winter. I have a section in the alley I’m dumping the wood ash from the stove in hopes of killing out a few of the surface weeds and add some carbon and nutrients to work into the soil.

I did a little more organizing of Mom stuff in the catch all room, put a couple of bins in the basement along with bags of shoes. I think I have a few more shelves in the shop we can use for the lighter items and that could free up shop floor space for the heavy stuff.  This move was done in a rush and it is hard to make thing organized when you are in a hurry. Hopefully Mom is getting towards the end of moving the small stuff and once the chickens are moved we can organize her things so they take up less space and also thing can be found as she needs them.

Finished most of the chores today

November 21, 2014

Last of the cell phone transfer is done and I got the veterans discount added. Hopefully all the hoops have been jumped through and there won’t be any more problems.  Dad is keeping my sister on his plan but by taking off both my phone and Mom’s he will save at least $20.00 per month and if he goes with fewer minutes, he could save some more money.  I’m trying to stay as neutral as possible but with Mom moving into my place it is a tad more difficult to be seen as a neutral party.

I finished up the Thanksgiving shopping and I didn’t get as good of deal on the turkey as I had hoped so I only picked up one eleven pound bird. The weather forecast looks good for BBQing the bird. It’s supposed to be in the 30’s and calm winds that makes it easier to maintain the heat level of the coals. I think the bird is small enough that I can use my rotisserie if the weather doesn’t work for BBQing the bird. One thing nice about being a prepper and having alternative ways to cook food, is it can make cooking the holiday meals a lot easier. Plus it is good practice for a disaster.

Speaking of the weather there is an alert for freezing rain and 15 mph winds tonight and Saturday though the temp is warming up a bit.  I started moving the holly branches to a spot where I can cut and bundle them up for the garbage truck or Dad has better access to pick them up and load them in the trailer for the dump. I still have about 1/4 of the pile to move, I’m hoping with the warmer temps melting the snow on the branches the holly will be easier to stack up.  I stacked the mill ends up higher and if what the store told me about how much room is needed to bring in the walls and roof we are good to go. The wood rack on the porch is refilled and I have a few days to a week worth of wood to burn. I’m recharging my cell phone and the kindle and got most of the storm prep done last week. I finished shoveling the bad spots  for snow out and added more salt to the front side walk just in case we get freezing rain.  Over all I’m prepped for the storm.

Mom says she will be coming over Saturday and we can work out the placement of the chicken shed and the placement of the kennel and the food for the chickens. I think the chickens will be happy in this spot because it is very well protected from the wind. The carport does a pretty good job and protecting of rain and snow so the chickens will stay dry.  I know if the chickens stay dry and out any wind/drafts they can tolerate cold temps very well.  There will also be plenty of room for the metal cans that hold feed for the chickens that is close to hand.

Last but not least I stopped by the beer lady and picked up some black and chocolate malt along with some hops and yeast to make a black lager, a black ale and another amber ale. I like making the darker beers in winter and the basement cools to the perfect temp. in winter for making lagers. I paid a couple of bills ahead, picked up a few oz. of silver on sale and got a little bit of a buffer to see how much more it will cost in utilities with Mom moving in. She is pretty frugal with electricity but we have added another fridge so cost will go up though I hope to off set some of the cost with the LED light bulbs.  Mom is sort of cold blooded compared to me and my sister so she might need to use a small electric heater in order to fell comfortable and I’m okay with that as she has offered to make up the difference in costs.  Her rooms get warmed by the wood stove so she may not need the little electric heater at all. I’m doing a lot better this year at maintaining the temps with the wood stove this year and she prefers the wood heat compared to the constant on/off cycles of an electric furnace. The chickens will need some heat and lighting this winter so that will add a bit more cost to the electric bill.   If Mom needs to stay into summer she has a small window A/C unit that will keep her and probably the front part of the house cool and comfortable in summer.

One last thing for you all. I really like the tower fan and small table I am using this year to push the heat from the wood stove though the house.  The tower fan seems to do a good job moving the warm air and it has a small foot print compared to box fans.  Outside of installing a ceiling fan the tower fan is a good compromise on cost and easy to add where you need it.

0 degrees F. this morning Amber lager started and chicken coops

November 16, 2014

Beautiful day, clear and very cold at 0 degrees at 10 am when I checked and on Monday morning fog will roll in. I’m not acclimatized yet and still get a bit chilled at times. The wood stove is doing a good job keeping the house warm overnight as it was 65 degrees when I got up this morning and there was a hot bed of coals to start today’s fire. I’ll be washing up all my long sleeve T-shirts tonight.  When I was in the Army I got a lot of long sleeve T-shirts and it is amazing how much warmer I felt compared to wearing a regular T-shirt. Now that I have been losing some weight I can start wearing those shirts again for winter. I was a little behind as I did not expect it to get quite so cold so fast. The local weather guys seem to be in the same boat, as the forecast temps keep getting revised downward each day.  Once it warms up a bit I will add some clear plastic to the windows. The blinds and curtains do a good job but I want to have more sun light coming into the house.  Some good news from my sister and using the new quartz heater “gift”. It is working well and she likes the heater and she is staying warm.

I got the Amber Lager finished and fermenting in the bucket. The house needed an extra boost of humidity and the extra heat was welcomed in the house.  I did a 90 minute simmer of the grains but I did not see a major boost in the sugar levels via the Hydrometer. I tend to brew for taste rather than alcohol content so I’m not worried about the beer, if I get about 5%  yield in alcohol. The snow and cold helps with chilling the wort quickly so there is an upside to the cold weather. The first tests of the amber ale have been good for flavor.  Just have to wait on carbonation and conditioning in the bottles.

I have been doing some research on chicken coops and I think Mom is making a mistake buying a semi-expensive shed and not investing in a solid foundation to support it.  I went on Amazon and they have several coops that would be a better temporary solution and could work long term for introducing new chickens into the flock. For the price of the shed and a good foundation she could buy 2 or 3 of the smaller coops with runs that would very simple to set up without investing in a good foundation needed for the shed. Running lights or heaters to the coops is not a problem as I have plenty of outdoor power stakes.  Give me a realistic budget and what you want to accomplish and I’m darn good at making stuff work. My biggest problem is a time crunch via the divorce. While I understand things can get unpleasant between those folks. I’m in the middle left hold the bag so to speak.  I really hate this crap of everyone picking sides and stuff. I suppose I am picking a side by taking in my Mom in but my Dad really helped me out so divorce is not easy for kids at any age.  Nothing new I have played this game before and I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

Looks like the snow finally stopped, wood used so far

November 14, 2014

I got a good eight inches of snow here at my house but I kept the sidewalks mostly clear. I managed to break the plastic handle of my snow shovel and it will have to be replaced. I never cared much for that old snow shovel, I’m glad I have an excuse to replace it now.  I didn’t go driving but I saw people were driving much slower today and leaving more room for stopping. It’s going to get into the single digits overnight but the weekend should give the road crews time to catch up and for people to practice driving a bit without so many going to work and rush hour’s traffic.

I checked my car battery and it finally crapped out. I have been expecting for awhile so I replaced it with an AGM battery I had standing by just in case. The hardest part in replacing it is one of the battery cables was too short to reach the terminal and I had to add another cable for it to reach. It is a kludgy sort of arrangment, I need check out the auto parts stores for a long term fix. The old battery did a good job for many years as it was the one that came with the Kia when I bought it. Working in the shop made things easier even though it is not insulated it is dry and out of the wind. Diana the peke complained a little bit as the concrete slab was cold on her feet. She went into the house to warm up while I finished the repair.

On the wood used since I stocked up for the storm. The wood rack of elm is over half full after a week and I still have the first bucket of mill ends though I did add a 5 gallon buckets worth when I cleaned the wood from the new chicken coop area.  I have not started a fire as the elm burns nice and slow over night and leaves a nice bed of coals in the morning.  The elm has worked much better than the fruit woods in keeping a a comfortable temp of 65-75 degrees F. in the house.  When I used the apple and cherry wood last year the house would get up into the 80’s and I could not seem to control the heat output very well. I supposed I did learn a little bit last year about how to burn wood in the stove but I believe it is how the elm burns that has made the biggest difference.  I hope the holly bush transplants I gave to my aunt start growing along the fence line and she will cut down the elms to use for fire wood.  I will be looking to add more wood next year and if I can get elm cut & split for a good price I will buy it!

I finally got the amber ale bottled today. With getting the yard work done and moving in Mom and getting the house ready for this little polar vortex thingy, bottling the beer was not a priority. As Mom put it we both needed a snow day to recover and catch our breath. I don’t see any big tasks for Saturday so I will get the amber lager boiled up and fermenting. One thing nice about brewing beer in the winter time is adds heat as well as much needed humidity to the house.  Heck even my beer brewing is a multi-tasker. I did not taste much of a flavor change with the wheat beer “bottle conditioning” though I think it help the black ale get a bit smoother and combine the richer flavors of the black and chocolate barley malt.

I want to add a few more fire extinguishers to the house now that the wood stove is going. Total Survivalist blog  http://www.totalsurvivalist.com/ suggested having a small extinguishers in each bedroom along with a couple of larger ones in the kitchen and close to the wood stove.  I think this is a brilliant idea as a person might put out the flames of a small fire or they could smother the flames in order to escape a fire. I think these might also be useful in many situations from a brush fire to a riot. I do wish the mob would leave all lighters and matches at home. Something about a riot always seems to bring out all the firebugs wanting to commit a bit of arson.