Darn, shucks and other “colorful metaphors” ….

April 4, 2019

The thin walled pvc pipes hoops just cracked when I tried to install them into the garden bed.  I have a heat gun, so I’ll try heating up the next pipes as I bend them to see if I can get a hoop shape out of the 3/4 inch pvc pipe. The garden bed with the thick walled pvc pipe isn’t a true arc/hoop but the pipes have been very stable and are maintaining the sort of rounded A-frame shape. Any hoo I draped the frost cloth over the first bed to see how it holds up to the rain and breezy conditions.  I added soil and compost/steer manure into two of the beds for a couple of tests.  1.  I wonder if I can feel a difference in warmth between the two garden beds in side by side testing and 2. I wonder if the frost cloth will keep Tucker the peke out of a garden bed full of FRESH DIRT to dig.  Tucker is in his Spring time dirt digging mode and he even started digging in one of the compost piles!

I’m thinking of building the greenhouse in another are of my yard as one of my  cherry trees is putting on some buds.  The other cherry tree is dead and must be cut down for safety reasons so I may put the greenhouse were the dead cherry tree is once the tree is cut down.  The greenhouse will be shaded in the summer but once the leaves fall it will get a lot of southern sunlight in fall, winter and spring.  Another advantage of moving the placement of the green house is I’ll have easy access to power from my shop.  That means I could run a small heater in the green house during the winter.  If I can save the the budding cherry tree I will do my best to get it healthy even if I don’t get fruit from the tree.  Cause cherry blossoms are very pretty and a small well pruned tree in that area of the yard would be good for plants that like fewer hours of hot sun.

It seems as my block is getting some irrigation water a bit early.  I noticed a few people’s places and my own irrigation spigot had flowing water.  I hate going onto other people’s property without permission but I don’t mind asking them if know they have water running/being wasted.  I turned off a couple spigot’s that were left on and no one had running water to overflow their property.  Little observations and just talking to neighbors about stuff helps people to bond without coming off as a scold/ busybody, as you are trying to be helpful. So I hope….

If the temps look good I’ll start sowing cole crops.  I need to get the snow peas in the garden bed and I’ll plant some lettuce, Broccoli, brussel sprouts and cauliflower under the frost cloth so the can put on growth in cool weather.  These plant usually bolt on me when I use transplants in late May or early June.  I’m taking a chance planting with a hard frost potential.  But if I plant these plants in June they will bolt.

I bought some seed potatoes for red and Yukon types of potatoes.  I’m going back to the big bucket container method for growing taters.  Idaho is known for big russet taters but smaller taters like red potatoes and taters for stews and preserving don’t get a lot of love.

I still need an occasional wood fire this spring and that means having good kindling and fire starters.  I’m building a big kindling box for next winter.  How I envision the box does not fit with the actuality of the box.  I’ll have to make a few adjustments and that is okay as I’m still learning.   If I guessed the average use of kindling in winter this box should hold about a 4-6 weeks of kindling for me.  Not perfect as winter heating season lasts at least 4-5 months.  It is a start of getting ahead before I need kindling.




Puttering around the yard, first use of the new wagon

June 21, 2015

Mom got the garden beds weeded, watered and I got most of the straw mulch laid out in the raised beds.  The Bok Choy and Napa cabbage “bolted” almost immediately after I planted it, so we are going to add a Mom’s tomato starts to that raised bed.  The front yard beds are going to be the spot for the root and leafy type vegetables. This year I’m trying a succession type gardening on some the leafy greens and root vegetables. This Tuesday Mom and I will stop by D&B and grab some leftover/sale flowers and plants for the beds.  Mom helped me finish up the second rose bed border and it looks pretty good, though I will need to add a little more wood mulch to finish off both rose beds.

I have to say the new wagon is a joy to use! Unlike the “cheap” wagon, this new one is much less prone to tipping over.  I think the Lock nut and washer setup is not a good set up for some one using the handle and hooking the wagon up to an ATV or Yard tractor, but a bolt/cotter pin or regular bolt and wing nut setup is an inexpensive and quick fix for the wagon handle.

Big Shopping week planned. Home depot has the battery powered fan/mister bucket set up for $79.99.  I don’t know how well a mister would work in areas with high humidity but where the air is dry like high desert they are great for cooling a person down.  What I like is the fan/mister combo runs on a Ryobi 18 volt battery and you can use a bucket of water or a hose for your water source. As long as you can charge the battery and replace the water you will have a good cooling system for summer.

Speaking of charging batteries, I ordered a fold-able 14 watt solar panel setup from Amazon that can charge both a “smart phone” and laptop at the same time! I’m a bit dubious about that claim but I figure I can charge some of the slim backup battery banks via the solar panel and then use the battery bank/backups to charge my electronics.  Apple products are very particular about direct charging power, as long as the power will charge up your external battery banks/backups  via solar panels, the backups should recharge your I gadgets. I don’t own any Apple products so I won’t be able to give a complete review on how the solar panel preforms.

Sales: Big 5 Sporting goods has Coleman cots for sale at $36.00 until the 25th of June. I’m sure many people plan on sleeping on the ground or using a foam mattress during a bugout or camping situation. For some of us older and disabled folks having a cot is not a luxury but a necessity.  I used to joke about those commercials “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” That was funny till it happened to me. I don’t like foam sleeping pads as most I used in the US army tend to sweat and make your sleeping bag damp.  A thin self- inflating air mattress worked as a better insulator for cold ground and it does not “sweat” like most foam mattresses.  Another thing I like about this Coleman cot is my Rubbermaid “roughneck” boxes will fit under the 17 inch cot height with an inch to spare.  Trust me on sharing a tent with other people, everyone must minimize their foot print on available floor space.  Cots and roughneck totes minimize floor space and the totes can work for make shift seats or chairs.  I was Tactical signal and had vehicles to carry my gear. I usually slept in a tent and had a cot. Grunts live a lot more austere when training and in war. I ain’t a grunt and I couldn’t handle that sort of physical effort before I was disabled.

Make a realistic assessment of what you can do daily! I don’t want you to give yourself a heart attack but do you train your body physically? Believe it or not, many 20 somethings kids can’t even walk 2 miles as they never had to do it in life.  I’m not knocking the younger generation as they rode the bus to school  be it 2 blocks or 2 miles there was no difference.  The  PTBs did not want healthy people, big pharma has lots of drugs for the unhealthy!  Start slow and walk around your block 5 days a week. Use tools that maximize your physical energy.  My electric rototiller can do in 30 minutes to an hour in one day what would take 8-16 hours physical energy spread over a week.

Cheat working hard and work smart! Don’t do things the hard way if you have a choice. There is a story about a guy that was given 8 hour to cut down a tree and he spent the first six hour sharpening his tools and the last two hours cutting down the tree.

It’s time to sharpen your tools.


Updating the BOB, GHB and the GOOD plans

May 13, 2015

I did a good job getting the weight down on all of my bags but I will be at a severe disadvantage going off-road because of my disability. I just don’t have the strength or stamina to carry a 30 pound back pack 10 miles a day.  I walk the local mall about 3-4 miles 5 days a week with the aide of my walker. But that is very easy “terrain” of indoors and tile floors so it isn’t the best training for a Bugout scenario!  Don’t get me wrong about walking, I think it is a great exercise but walking five miles in the mall is nothing like “rucking 10-15 miles with a 60 +  pound  backpack most infantry Grunts do as daily/weekly training or what you may need to do in a Bugout situation!

I got the BOB down to 25 pounds without water but it has all the basics needed for about a week. I also live in a high desert area so finding water is not the easiest thing, so I figure I need to have about a gallon of water in my pack just in case I can’t make potable water and that adds a lot of weight.  Well I need a solution to the weight problem and it is a vehicle, wheeled carts and/or my “trike”.  Hopefully I can just toss the BOB in the mini-van add my camping box and be on my way, but that is a best case scenario. What could be the worst case scenario….

The GHB is a svelte 18 pounds and it is a rolling backpack I got a yard sale last year for about $3.00. It has about 3 days worth of the basics though no water or filtration system other than the ability to boil water for purification.  Daily, my furthest trip from home is about 5 miles so my GHB is supplied with a bit more of the basics over and above what I would use normally to get home.  Office Depot/Max has a great little cart for $15.00- $20.00 that holds about 50 pounds makes a great little camp table and folds flat when not in use.   I don’t think being disable or handicapped in any gives you a pass on not preparing. In fact I think you must prepare because only you know your physical limitations and how best to work around them.

The GOOD or “Get Out Of Dodge” plan. I have stated my disabilities limit me but I think any could stage items in the garage or RV.  In the Army we called it Combat parking, but you basically back your vehicle into a garage/carport. So if the SHTF and you need to scoot all you need to do is pull forward and hit the road.  How fast can you load your BOV? How long can your Bugout supplies last?  Do you have cash on hand to buy supplies?  Personally I think bugging out is an act you are forced into via desperation.  Bad things can happen so you must prepare to leave in less than 10 minutes.  If every member of you family has a BOB and you plan/practice for evacuating you should be okay. But you must plan, prepare and practice.

Some people will not be able to handle the “new” paradigm and they will break when things get a little difficult.  My generation “mid 1980’s” really got into helicopter parents and special snow flake children.  But a lot of those Millennial kids are waking up and taking action on a local level.  We should be a bit tolerant as these kids have discovered Sex , truth and justice once again for the first time!  I think most of them are good folks, but I’m an optimist!  Give me a big pile of crap,  I start looking for a a pony or at least start another compost pile.

To quote Chris Duane “if you are aware, you can prepare.” That does not mean things/ prepping will be easy. It is simply doable if you will sacrifice short term gratification for long term security.



Did a bit of Armageddon shopping this weekend for Electronics and drying clothes

February 15, 2015

Mom and I did go shopping, I got a small Bissel spot carpet cleaner ($50.00) the savings in toilet paper and paper towels used to clean up after the dogs will payoff the cleaner in a year.  Another reason I like the little spot carpet cleaner is that it is battery powered cordless and it make clean up very easy.  Added a full sheet set for summer for Mom’s bed and I’m trying out some flat sheets that may fit my German bed. I think a normal twin sheet might fit the German mattresses because most American sheets are made to fit thicker pillow-top type mattresses.  I wanted to pick up some of the Egyptian cotton towels on sale at Kmart, yet corporate seems to have reduced the shelf space. I can’t blame them as Kmart does not appeal to most high end shoppers. Trust me a good Egyptian cotton or the highest thread count cotton sheets does make a difference in comfort. Though it is a trade off of quality versus quantity.

This is the second week end of washing clothes and drying them without a heating dryer.  We can use the tumble dry setting for the dryer so that helps somewhat with drying the clothes.  The two small drying racks work okay, but Mom added her tall “mini-green house” shelves that really helped drying out blankets and the sheets. The local True Value store did not have the pulley system I wanted to setup but the local lowes store has them on hand.  Monday I’ll get the pulleys and then setup the clothesline and the shelf/hook brackets that I want to put behind the wood stove. That should give us plenty of space to hang all of the laundry we do weekly to dry in about 24 hours. Adding the vinegar to the rinse cycle like you add fabric softener, has made a huge difference in softening the clothes while drying, along with running the clothes no-heat tumble dry cycle.

We picked up an all in one printer as Mom’s printer decided to die just after she arrived here and was needed for copying/faxes. Lawyers charge a lot of money for copies or any type of paperwork so now we have plenty of printers both large and small for making hard-copies as well as scanning in stuff for electronic storage.  Got a used ($5.00)  digital camera that does not eat batteries like my high end Olympus. I screwed up on that high end camera purchase, a digital camera that gorges on battery power is almost worse than no camera at all. Perhaps I can start adding a few more pics to the blog as we head into spring.

I want to thank Matt for the  you-tube vid about using the Linksys 54 G router with a basic email server via radio freqs any Ham with a tech Lic. can operate. I looked up the Linksys Router on Amazon and you can pick one up for under $30.00. Now most wireless routers I have used have 6 channels so you can use channel 1 as your emergency communication channel and run your basic wireless network on one of the other 5 channels.  While I don’t care for the non encryption required for Han radio networks you could limit access to the router by using MAC addresses of each devices authorised to access the router,  which is a fairly secure alternative to encryption. Security is built in layers and it does not mater if it is your home or your c0mputer/communication network.

I got another of the rechargeable flashlight/night lights off the clearance rack at True Value. If you find these little combo night lite/flashlight for under $10.00 I think you should add them to your prep gear and I think they would be great for kids as a night light/rechargeable flashlight that is simple to use and recharge. I talk about kids but I have seen plenty of so called adult freak out during a little power outage.  This might be something to add to an office or your little cubicle for your GHB. A fully charged LED flashlight is nothing to be sneered at and may prove to be quite useful.

Last but not least Diana the peke responded very well to the steroid therapy but it appears she needs long term steroid treatment as I dropped down to the one tablet every other day and she had very significant pain today, went completely off her food and very wobbly on her legs. I may owe the Vet. an apology as far as the Carprophen putting Diana off her food when it was the pain she was in that turned her off food!  Mom and I got a steroid tablet and half a tramidol into Diana and she started moving much better though a touch fumble footed from the pain killer.  Diana has been doing the steroid treatment for about a week and she may need a bit more time to get somewhat right.  I know the Vet. and I were looking for anything that could help Diana get out of pain and this was sort of an experiment that might help an older dog have a good quality of life and not be put down.  It will take a bit more time to get her healed up but the steroid treatment has really worked wonders for Diana the peke! I have plenty of tramidol on hand to handle her pain issues so I don’t need to pay for that prescription. Some more of the steroid pills for nerve/back pain should put her right and hopefully heal her up!

Got most of the shopping done and one small glitch

December 17, 2014

I gassed up the car and it cost only $24.00 which is a nice change compared too having a 50 dollar bill used up this Summer.  I got an 11 pound chunk of Beeswax as the bee keeper busted apart an 18 pound chunk of wax for me. I need to make that chunk a bit smaller in order to clean it. I now know how to cut the wax into smaller chunks, you need a small pry bar and a hammer. Though I think a wedge and sledge hammer would work as well! Real beeswax is dense but that is what makes it so good for candles and for other craft items/projects. I can afford to spend the time to clean the wax for my salves as well as Mom’s candle making idea. It’s one of those jobs you can start and check on through out the day.  It’s not fast but you can get other things done while the wax melts.

I stopped by the pawn shop to pick up the tools on layaway. While I was there the shop had an older kindle fire with no cord pretty cheap. I could not register the kindle and it turns out the kindle fire was reported lost or stolen! I gave the pawn shop owner a heads up about the issue and they were very pro-active about saying bring the kindle back for a full refund and then tracking down the person that brought the kindle into their shop.  I learned a few things about identifying the kindles and I think I’d like a kindle fire with a camera and something I can use as a tablet via wireless around the house. I think a Tablet has a place in your preps as it can be a great electronic Multi-tasker. It takes less energy to power a tablet compared to a laptop computer and a desktop is an electronic power hog, at least based on what I build. I love my old kindle keyboard model as I have all kinds of books stored on it.

I stopped by the local hardware store and got another pair of the gloves I like so well.  I have an odd shaped hand large palms but sort of short fingers. So I can sort of use both small and medium gloves as one size will fit the palm and the other size fits my fingers. I picked up a saw blade for the reciprocating saw that cuts plastic and should help finishing up my plumbing repair.  I picked up a small space heater for Mom as her small SS check hits on the 24th this month and I don’t think shopping on that day will be fun! I have paid a few small bills ahead, so things are going fairly well overall and we both have a bit of time to build up some cash reserves. I’m a little bit cash-poor this month as I’m buying up silver on sale.  No, I don’t need any help as I have been cash poor in the past and I have learned to deal with it.  We will have a nice, if sort simple Xmas with a bit of Prime rib and the Holiday fixings. If you can afford Prime rib, you aren’t really poor!

Mom let out the chickens to free range a bit in the backyard. Talk about happy birds scratching through the leaf clutter and mulch. Diana the peke was very good with the birds, though Smokey the cat was in nap mode while the chicken free ranged.  Most of the chickens did very well when Mom called them to the kennel/chicken coop. I  can clean up the cuts around chicken door area with the reciprocating saw I bought and sort of get a feel for how it works. By this weekend I think I’ll be ready to tackle the plumbing repair jobs.

A lot of self-reliance and prepping is very mundane and sort of boring in many ways.  Speaking for myself, I get a huge thrill about meeting a goal or learning a new skill. Watching the grass grow, comes to mind and yes I have done that, as a measure of trying to improve soil. Some of the things are sort of entertaining. Watching Diana the peke with the chickens free ranging. Watching the chickens have a great time scratching through the leaf mulch of my raised garden beds is sort of entertaining to me.  I suppose I have always been a bit odd but that is okay. I like simple things and simple entertainments.

Last thing for the year is set up a crossbow/pellet gun range for practice of basic shooting skills.  I have about a 15 meter range with a good backstop. It’s a bit short range but it’s the best I can do on my city lot.


Taking it easy today

November 7, 2014

I was pretty worn out after all the moving of furniture and boxes yesterday so I took it easy physically. Mom dropped just a few items and saw my adjustment and she wants to replace my shelving with one of her book cases. That will work out because I can take the shelving downstairs and use it for organizing my storage. I think one of the top 10 items on every preppers wish list is more shelves or cabinets for storage.

I was a little surprised by the difference in storage/shelving I was able to add to the catch-all room by cleaning and organizing it better. A few ideas are now spinning around in my head about making a cabinet for the water barrels and  using  a couple of those furniture moving carts to make the barrels easier to move around when full.  One of the biggest lessons I learned from my water tests is the reality of moving water is a hard job. Any way I can make it easier is going on the todo list!

Some good news, Smokey the cat is reacting much better to the move into the catch all room. She has her food and stuff all setup on the dresser like before and a chair with a down blanket for sleeping on when she needs it. I put a vinyl picnic table cloth on the dresser to protect it when I first brought her home and  now that is her “stuff”and seem to make the transition a lot easier for her. I never thought a cat would care about a table cloth!  Diana the peke, is adding hard food back into her diet. Her cyst hasn’t reduced much lately but it does not bother her in the slightest. I think we are starting to come to the end of her shedding and I gave her another good brushing last night. I’m astounded how such a small dog can shed so much fur without going bald.

I stopped by lowes and picked up three more of the LED bulbs even though they were not on sale to add to the bathroom. I’m replacing light bulbs in room I tend to use the most as well as were the quality of light is critical.  I like the light and have high hopes that these LEDs will reduce my electrical costs in the future.  Every opportunity to save money should be taken advantage of even if it few pennies at a time. If you take care of the pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves.  I went to the Verizon store to switch over the phones and I was very disappointed by how long I had to wait and that I could not complete the transfer as I was told earlier this week.  I went online and checked out Cricket phones and they have a nice plan for unlimited talk and text for only $25.00 a month!  I don’t have a smart phone and all I want is just the ability to talk, though text can be a nice feature in a disaster when voice calls can’t get through.  Another nice thing about Cricket is there is no long term contract to deal with and I felt like Verizon just could not wait to get me under contract with a new phone and phone number.  In today’s economy I won’t have a 2 year contract with huge cancellation fees attached.  If I have to get a new phone and phone number there is no advantage in staying with Verizon and a heck of a lot of downsides.

One of things I see many people do, is only look at the monthly cost/payment and they don’t look at the possible long term costs. I can’t tell you many times I hear people say as long as they can make the monthly payment they are doing fine.  They never see how how over-leveraged they are or how their debt to income ratio has climbed until  they have a small emergency and their credit has dried up or how interest starts to eat them alive financially. I’m not saying all debt is bad, my little wood stove loan has already paid back in lower winter utility bills which has offset some of the cost of the loan. When it is paid off next year all of savings  goes into my energy fund of getting wood early for next winter and I want to add more solar panels and batteries for nice little off grid system for electricity.

Building a community and doing good things with the garden produce

October 6, 2014

My tomatoes are coming on a bit late but I made a few deliveries of  my garden produce to some neighbors that had a bit of bad luck on their garden and a few new members that could not plant a garden because of timing.  If you want to build a community you must reach out and be nice. Sometimes you will get a verbal slap in the face but that is actually a good thing as you start learning who will work with the community and who wants or needs to be left alone.  My brewing beer opens up a lot people, but some don’t drink, but everyone eats and a home grown garden tomato can be a great way to break the ice and get to know your neighbors.

I know I can’t be a “lone wolf” and survive.  Because of my disability I know I will need help so I have already spent years of helping my neighbors via tools I have lent to them to dropping off a few veggies to using my stove to cook or charcoal to BBQ.  I think a those little items have built up a lot of good will for the future.  I don’t have a problem with a person trading value for value and I don’t think you need to be self -sacrificing in order to be a good Christian.  I do get a bit peeved at some Christians that seem to think they don’t have to prepare because God or other christians must step up to provide for them.  That’s a cop-out and excuse for them not to do the work and prepping done well costs and is work ! I believe that God gave us examples to prepare. That does not mean we will be perfect only that we will do the best we can and trust that God handles any little over sights on our part.  If you don’t put forth the effort to prepare I don’t see why God should save you.  To me it seems you are throwing that gift of life he gave you.  If you don’t value your life why should any one else?

I’m not talking about a run of “bad luck” that happens, but I am talking about choosing to do your best and sacrificing to get prepared. You might fail but you should at least get a little bit prepared.

New Essential oil experiment:

I think that Rice bran oil is a great carrier oil and it is naturally high in vitamin E that works as a natural preservative as well as being good for your skin. Now compared to the salves made with coconut oil the rice bran oil seems to be absorbed quicker and a bit less greasy/oily feeling, staying on top of the skin. I’m not sure how to describe it except the rice bran oil seems to soak into the skin and coconut oil seem to stay on top of the skin and sort of form a light protective barrier.  Using coconut oil in my pain salve is wonderful and it it is a bit water resistant. But for a dry skin healing salve I think the rice bran oil maybe a bit better soaking into the skin.

I have some dry skin problems but nothing major. Now my sister has major skin problems with psoriasis and has bad rash looking breakouts. So I want to make a salve that address both a bit of dry skin as well as major skin issues. Bad thing is my sister is very sensitive to citrus products so using a lemon essential oil does not work.  I made up a skin oil with tea tree (mellaluca) and a equal amount of  Rosemary (about 12-14 drops in 8 oz. of carrier oil) I also added a bit of lavender (2-4 drops) to kick up the oils and a scent. I added about 6 drops of clove and cedarwood for a nice fragrance but I think the clove adds a bit of warmth to the skin. It’s not unpleasant just a bit unexpected result.

Now I have only tested this on myself so it may work differently for you but so far the salve feels very good when applying it. It smells pleasant and I think most guys would like the woodsy cedar and clove smell.  I tested this on my left hand and I had a little pain in my thumb (arthritic/bad weather related) and it seem to help a bit with the pain. Or at least loosen up the joint a bit.

Speaking for myself the salve feels wonderful put on dry  skin and I’m not much of a person worried about dry skin. I think you should watch the amount of clove oil as it might make the salve overly hot rather than a pleasant slightly warm feeling I had testing it out.

Good day to fix the PC and clean the desk area

September 27, 2014

It was cool and rainy so I worked on getting my old desktop PC up and working. The old 8800 nvidia video card bit the dust a while back so I got a small GT 610 video card to replace it a couple of months ago but I couldn’t get the PC to power up. I had my laptop to use as a backup so I just left the desk top sit for awhile as I had many other jobs that seemed more important to get done besides fussing with a PC.  I figured out I also had a bad memory stick that kept the PC from booting and got that tracked down, thankfully no cost involved just sort of annoying.  I also got a software update finished that was a real pain before, but today went smooth as silk.  It’s always good to remember that electronics is related to physics which is related to mama nature and sometimes “Mama” likes to mess with you!  I have to say it is very nice to have a faster machine while cruising the Internet.

While I was putting with the PC I got my battery backups all powered up and plugged in my printer and router. These are small wattage backups so if main power goes down I can use the laptop with the router and printer at least for a short time.  I also killed a few dust bunnies and found some power and other cables to remove that were not in use.   My cords always seem to breed if I don’t watch out and keep them seperated 😉 It looks much cleaner and I have freed up a lot of  desk real estate getting things cleaned and organized.

I’m keeping an eye out for some of the larger uninterruptible power supplies at yard sales. Those UPS-es are expensive to buy new.  Just another battery powered layer to add for any short term power outages and I can use this battery power to top off the cell phone or the kindle.  I’m sort of the poster child for starting off small and cheap and them building the next layer.  Once you build up whatever system you are putting together  you can move the  “starter items ” into the barter bin so you are not wasting any money or resources.

I took Mom to the Doc about her knee and she has to spend a few more weeks in the brace. At least she can take off the brace while sleeping and she was able to take her first real bath since August last night. While Mom is a bit miffed about keeping the brace on at least she is making some progress. I’m thankful I got to drive her around as I don’t think the snack packs of jello/pudding for the sickroom would have entered my mind without the idea of the mini-van picnic/food box.  I guess that is why I always enjoyed the TV show Connections with James Burke as my mind works with one thing and then sort of goes off on another tangent.

I want to thank all of you who sent your prayers and we even got a couple extra donations for Phelan to start on the stove pipe. If anyone wants to ask about going grid down for months on end Phelan is your girl on just about everything related to that and keeping a family functioning.

Yard cleanup, fixing the compost pile and I love my Roku

September 21, 2014

I got the lawn mowed and used the weed eater to get a few spots a little more under control. The two biggest jobs were the compost pile and tilling the water main dirt again. It seems that my compost pile ratios have been off and I need to do a better job of keeping it damp and mixed. So today I  used my wheel barrow as a sort of holding area and then took all of the compost and moved all the top stuff to the bottom, mixed in more browns and gave each layer I mixed together a good spray down with the hose. I made my pallet compost bin with two main areas with a smaller  third spot for the finished compost.  My plan is once a week for the mixing is move the stuff from the top of one bin to other bin, that should give the pile a good mixing and I can make sure I’m watering the pile enough.  I added a few of those burlap bags  stapled to the pallets and one to cover the pile. That should help the pile retain heat but it can still breathe and use any rain that comes my way.

I have to say that I thought a compost pile would be easy! Just like anything it takes time for you to figure out what works best for you and what you are physically able to do.  I can say that building the compost pile out of pallets gives me much easier access to mixing and watering my pile plus I can make a much bigger pile compared to one of those little store bought plastic boxes I used that did not work for me.  There will probably be more tweaking to be done of my compost system in the future but I’m learning and on the right track.

Rototilling the water main area was needed to give the grass seed better soil to grow. The soil is improving but it needs more work to make it a good for growing. The areas where I put down some of my early compost is getting richer and more of a dark brown rather than the very dusty tan color I started with in the water main soil. My backyard also has some low spots that seem to accumulate the alkali from the soil.  There was some good looking compost at the very bottom of the bin so I added it to the water main area after raking some of the brown soil into the low spots. Having the wheelbarrow to move that compost around rather than using buckets made that job much easier.  Improving the soil this way is sort of slow but it is also cheap. I seem to be learning and getting a better feel for the soil and how it should look as well as watching what is growing and if it is healthy growth or just a few weeds barely hanging on to life. The soil has a lot of potential it just needs some help to make it really bloom and produce and that takes time.

The neighbors stopped by and since they don’t have TV so to speak we all just sat around and watch some of the old Carol Burnett show skits and out takes.  One of the nicest things about Roku is you can stream Youtube onto your TV with a wifi network.  My TV watching is free since I cut off Dish sat. and paid for the Roku and my Amazon Prime account compared to paying $30.00+ per month to dish.  About the only thing I don’t like is if I lose access to the Internet I lose my “home phone” via magic jack and my Roku programming. I do have battery backups but it is still a single point of failure that can screw up several things. I think it is worth the risk because #1 I save a lot of money each month and #2 if the Internet goes down, not watching a TV show will probably be the least of my problems!  I have my Ham radios for backup comms and plenty of  DVD’s to watch if I can generate power to run the TV.  I have found I don’t really miss not having cable/sat. TV and sitting down to watch a show is a treat rather than background noise. I am a big reader of books and there is always something to be done around the house so I don’t miss not having TV that much. Now going without the internet is a whole ‘nother animal and I would really miss not having it, but I think I can go without it and not suffer too much withdrawal.


Big load of wood arrived today

June 5, 2014

Dad filled the truck bed and a trailer full of wood and dropped it off today.  I tried to keep up with stacking it up but it was just to much and it was getting hot out so I quit the wood thing for today.  Dad is bringing another load on Friday and we will need to add more top cover to protect the wood from the elements.  If my math is correct I will have around 6-7 cords of the elm for this winter which should be more than enough for this year and a start on next year’s wood pile. Dad is in serious woodcutter mode so installing the microwave will need to wait a couple of days.  He has a hydraulic splitter but it is still a lot of hard work.  Once the elm is all split and hauled away my aunt is going to put in a goat pen for the bucks.  My aunt wants to get some of the volunteer holly for a privacy hedge for my cousin. It’s very nice to hear about my cousin “putting down roots” so to speak and I love being able to help out.

I managed to get the front lawn mowed and add some green to the compost pile. My aunt said adding some of the sawdust to my front beds was a good idea and should help the plants grow better. Overall she said the soil felt good to her and just needs the normal additions for growing. I was thinking of putting the kiddie pool for mints and other herbs up front but I think it might be better in the backyard as it won’t be so visible.  This should be the last bed for this year and I can start on filling in the front beds. While I need to do some weeding it does not seem quite so daunting a task this year. I think I did better on my preparing the beds and it seems to be paying off with less work on the weeding.  Saturday would be a good day to set up the outdoor kitchen, brew some beer and putter in the garden.

I used some of the black ale wort in the Bootlegger bottle and even though it uses a wine yeast the beer turned out okay and it fermented very quickly. Tastes a bit more sharp compared to the ale yeast but that might be an aging/conditioning issue. But the Bootlegger bottle will work with an all grain beer recipe. I also made up some of my pain relief salve but I used 8 oz. Grape seed oil and up the beeswax to 1.5 oz. and the salve turned out just a bit stiffer at room temp. compared to the one made with coconut oil. I think you could use either recipe with your choice of oils depending on the texture you want for your salve.

It looks like I got my callsign for my Ham radio but they got my middle initial wrong and I don’t know if that is significant or not. I’ll give the local club guys a call and see if that is a problem and how to get it corrected.  Been a busy month, but I love how things seem to be working out.