April 5, 2018
There was a wind alert for Mom’s area. Winds gusting up to 30-35 MPH this week, but Mom said the tarp over the chicken run handled the wind with no problems. In fact one of the old chickens even laid an egg. I think that is one of the first eggs laid out at Mom’s new place so I take that as sign the chicks are feeling more comfortable at the new place.
I’m making up a new batch of the paraffin wax/sawdust fire starters. Gosh I got spoiled using these fire starters. I tried going back to using paper and kindling is a major pain in the butt getting a fire started! Good news is Mom had some paraffin wax in her boxes so I did not have to purchase any wax this month. I will have a couple of egg crates of fire starters for Mom and get at least four crates done for myself to have for this month. I have been going to the local park and picking up pine cones. A 5 gallon bucket of pine cones and dried twigs that have dropped under pine trees tend to be very dry tinder and most park departments don’t clean up under pine trees. I figure if I fill a couple of 5 gallon buckets every couple of weeks this summer I can have a couple of trash cans worth of pine cones/tinder before fall and firewood heating season begins this winter.
Update on the vermin problem of mice and cock roaches. I have not caught any mice since mom moved the chicken house to her place. I still have a few traps out along with putting out a little cat kibble outside for the cats to catch mice. The neighborhood cats stop by occasionally for a snack and a little water but they don’t seem to be hunting mice. It has been about 3 months and I have not seen a single roach in the house. I have cleaned up some of the DE on the counter but have left some DE in the cabinets for residual protection. At this point I’d say I’m at maintenance level against vermin rather than trying to eliminate an infestation.
Overall I can’t say I was all that impressed with the exterminator. Don’t get me wrong I think the exterminator did the job just fine. It’s just the nature of vermin to look for an easy meal and you have to be pro-active in stopping them from getting that easy meal. One thing I never considered about cockroaches is my kitchen plumbing traps. Pipes collect grease and food debris as well as trap water. Those pipes are like a cockroach buffet! Drain plugs and screens are a great way to block off that cockroach buffet.
I want to start incorporating the use of small amounts of solar energy and lighting daily. That means using some of those solar camp lights as night lights. Testing out battery packs and recharging stuff like the cell phone and kindle via small solar panels. I can’t afford to go full solar power but if I can stay below 750 Kwh per month I will save a lot of money on my electric bill. Where I am there are off peak hours electric use is the weekend and between 9:00 pm and 6 am week days, so if the solar can’t charge during a cloudy day I can charge the battery pack during off peak hours and charge my gadget whenever it needs a boost. I’m taking advantage of the new windows for daylight and trying to keep my light usage to just at night. I have installed LED Light bulbs and I think you should use power when yo need it for a job, but often I would leave a light on just because and not because I needed it for doing some thing specific. So far it seems to be making a difference in my power costs.
December 29, 2017
One thing nice about the end of the year is almost everything goes on sale. I have been stocking up on small fans that are battery rechargeable via a USB port as that is a power port on my 15 watt solar panel. The fans I have been getting are cheap but several of the fans move a lot of air for the power and size. These little fans will be great to add to my Mr. Buddy Heater to move the heat around camping or in the RV. I think using a small rechargeable power packs that can be recharged via solar is better than buying lots of small batteries. A great thing about these fans having a USB port for charging is that I can use an small power bank and recharge via solar or use a USB plug into an electrical socket or generator socket. I picked a couple more solar powered blow up lights for $3.00 each. The lights don’t have a red blinking light the $10.00 models have but over all I think they will work out well for camping and storm prep. Now I can add the small solar light to my vehicle preps that is much safer than using candles.
I love a good pair of slippers as much as I love a good pair of gloves. If you have sweaty feet like I do you will need at least two pairs of slippers so one pair dries while you wear the other pair. I was never one to go “bare foot” even in warm weather and dealing with CIDP I need my feet to stay warm so I feel warm. On my snow-blowing adventure that I started in sneakers I found having warm water proof boots out side is a plus and having warm and dry slippers was even more important to warming up. I have found if you can can keep your feet and hands warm you will feel warm. While I have not put in place a switch winter boots to house slipper or “indoor” shoes I think it could help not tracking in dirt and stuff from the out doors. That would save clean up time!
I got a small sled to haul wood to the front porch and not use the garden wagon in the snow. I bought 10 feet of line and added a piece of hose for grip so the rope won’t dig into your palm while hauling wood.
Mom looked at purchasing a wood stove and getting it installed and it is not cheap. For a good efficient wood stove that will give yo at least a 6 hour burn time is energy efficient and safe you are looking at a cost of 4 grand if installing a wood stove from nothing. Oh sure you can go with a cheap stove to start. But it pays long term to get the best stove you can buy even if the upfront costs seem a little steep. There are bonuses investing in a higher cost stove.
- These are efficient stoves.
- Most of the stoves have cool to touch sides.
- These stoves don’t need to be stoked every 4 hours
While the back part of my house gets cold over night. Cold means about 60 degrees F. Pipes are not freezing and the dogs get snuggled into pet beds. Mom did not feel good today so she worked hard to makes sure her chicks were comfy. I’m not going to complain as the chicks are keeping her in eggs. I I need to look at a few dead heaters and see if they are fixable via attaching a wire along with a good clean out via air compressor.
Such is life, most things are simple. That does not mean they are easy.
December 18, 2017
Getting wood this year has been a challenge. I thought I had a good supplier and I even paid upfront for a wood delivery to help him get his pickup engine re-built so he could deliver wood. I have not heard a word from that guy since February.
About August I’m starting to get nervous as I have not found a new wood supplier so I get put on a waiting list for pine to be delivered later….. Maybe!
Huzzah! I get get a new wood supplier from a friend recommendation and the wood looks pretty good as it is mostly hardwoods in the first cord that is just a little small but the price is great! Oops! turns out the guy may be facing felony theft charges and the cops have a warrant for his arrest. I’m running out of options to restock my wood racks for this winter heating season so I call up the folks about the pine delivery. Huzzah they will deliver a full cord of pine that fills my wood racks. The people that delivered the pine were great very honest and open about pine not being the best firewood for wood heat rather than just a “decorative” fire in a fire place or wood stove.
Mom and I have learned a lot about burning pine and it has not been fun. It seems with the Ponderosa pine we got is we get to types of fire.
- A “smudge” type fire that just sort of smolders and smokes without putting out a lot of heat.
- A “bonfire” with lots of flame that burns out quick with the damper wide open.
I’m not some sort of wood burning purist as I can usually find the positives along with the negatives of burning different types of wood but I’m not finding a lot of positive thing to say about burning pine for heat.
I did have a some very positive wood buying experiences. The guy that delivered the mill ends was great! Yeah it was just a ranger pickup load of mill ends but he stacked the wood in the bed rather than just dumped it in the box. So I got a lot more wood than I anticipated. The people that delivered the pine say they will have Douglas/ Red fir starting in in May next year so I can get an early start on my wood pile for next winter.
Last but not least I still have quite a bit of leftover wood from last year that is finally dried out from last spring. The problem is almost all of that wood is under all the pine wood I stacked on the wood racks. Now Mom and I are re-stacking the pine to get at the older dried wood. There is a lot more leftover wood from last year than I thought originally. Now that I have enough wood racks next year I can fill/rotate the older dried wood and fill up the new wood racks rather than just stack the new fire wood on top of the older fire wood.
I don’t know if this is a thing with kiln dried wood but the pine that was kiln dried seems to suck in moisture like a sponge. In SW Idaho we have had inversions and a very humid (for us) winter. My thinking is the kiln drying may open up the wood cells to dry might make those wood cells open to moisture once the wood is out of the kiln. I’m not going to throw the pine in the trash but I’m going to use last year’s woods and give the pine time to dry naturally.
UPDATE: Putting the thermal barrier down on the back entry way floor has made a huge difference in the feeling of warmth in the back part of the house. I can’t say the area was drafty but it was a cold sink that was noticeable, and the temp in the back part of the house is averaging about 2+ degrees F. warmer compare to before adding the thermal barrier. That may not sound like much but, that 2 degree difference can create a drafty feeling.
December 16, 2017
That pic gives a good idea of all the all the work done via the siding to the right as you are looking at the pic you see part of the new window installed. I did not have the porch windows replaced because of the additional cost. The porch is protected but not insulated so it seemed a bit silly to invest in new windows for that area.
This is the before pic after the roof was added
North side of the house from the front yard.
As you can see I need to paint the foundation area next spring or summer but I very please with the look of the siding. Adding a stone fascia would be optimal but paint is a lot cheaper and faster. My local True Value store has matched both the red and grey colors on the house so I will probably get a red paint for the foundation that matches the red accents. I’ll be adding the new door lever and dead bolt to the front door once I get paid next week. I’m going with an aged bronze finish like I installed on the back door.
My neighbor is buying the large rounds of wood that I got but wasn’t split. The neighbor is a burly guy and I’ve seen him split wood so this give me more space for wood and the neighbor get some great wood late in the season for a great price. With this wood and buying fruit (apple and cherry) from the local orchards staying warm via wood heat won’t be a problem.
Speaking of burning wood both Mom and I are learning how to burn split pine. I have wood racks on a concrete base and when there is an inversion dry soft woods suck in moisture like a sponge. All wood is now up off the concrete and is covered on top by a tarp. All of the wood ends are exposed to the wind for drying. Here in the west we don’t have a lot of hardwood for burning. I recommend stocking up on Douglass/red fir and hit the orchards for apple/cherry wood. Elm and locust can grow here but it a bitch to split.
Speaking of splinting wood I found a youtube vid of using a sledge hammer with an axe or splinting maul to split large rounds of wood. It is not fast but it it should be doable for me if it works. I have a few rounds I’d like to make smaller and if it works I can go out and pound on the logs without trying to muscle through the splitting the logs.
Last but not least I laid down thermal barrier on the floor of my backdoor entry way. I think when it was originally installed it was a glass patio door and then enclosed. The floor area sits on concrete and has very little insulation. I added a rubber backed carpet and that helped some on the cold and heat from the concrete radiating hot in summer and cold in winter. I laid down Thermal barrier on the floor and cover with the rubber back carpet and we gained another 2 degrees of heat in the back room. The carpet is not sliding around and the back part of the house is getting warmer as I type.
I don’t think the addition to my house was very well insulated so I have to insulate as money become available. I’m not going to screw around ripping off the siding so that means I have to insulate from the inside out. I’m not going to tear out drywall because I feel a bit cool and semi uncomfortable. I’ll make this as comfortable as possible then gather cash to make things more comfortable.
It is not like we are freezing to death. Heck at worst the temp reading was 62 degrees F. Hardly a precursor to the Apocalypse! Add socks and put on a sweater is not exactly a sign of the end of civilization.
November 11, 2017
I have been blown away by how well the house holds heat since the windows and siding are complete. My computer room now gets into the mid-70’s F. and retains the heat even after the wood stove burns out. Of course it has not turned to cold in the valley since all the work was done but with the old windows heat would just leak out if we did not have plastic on the windows. Mom and I are using a lot of the mill ends and smaller limbs for small fires and just to keep the firebox going through the day. The only problem with that sort of fire is I’ll need to buy more of the mill ends for the rest of winter (for kindling) and too use next spring. I have the materials for another wood rack and one more load of wood ordered for delivery this month. That last load should fill up the main wood storage area and I’m storing the mill ends in a separate area that is easy access for adding more wood if needed this winter of spring.
I started painting the front door a grey semi-gloss that matches the color of the gables and frame work around the windows. It is going to take a couple of coats of paint to cover up the old red door. The worst part is the old door hardware looks kind of terrible against the new paint. I have been looking at new locks and door levers rather than just the standard knobs. Eventually I’d like to change all the doors to the lever type handles as they look great and are much easier for me to operate with my CIDP. One thing I have become aware of since getting disabled is how much easier life can be if you retro fit faucets, door handles and other (ADA approved) hardware. What is great is most of the hardware has a retro-look that fits with me going back to the original look of a 1910-20’s Craftsman House.
Update on the stitches: Every thing is looking good according to the doc in a box. In a week I’ll get the stitches removed though it may take up to 6 weeks the cut to fully heal and give me another interesting scar. The Doc in a box even asked where I got the bandage I was using to cover the cut. The Walgreen’s brand of 3 inch x 4 inch knee/elbow bandage works great for covering a large cut and is very easy to apply. I’m not sure if this is correlation or causation but when I started using Curad’s Anti-microbial silver solution I noticed a significant reduction of pain around the injury site compared to using the little packets of anti- Bacterial cream I got from Doc in a box. I believe but can not prove that the silver solution gel made a huge difference on how quickly this cut started healing.
Not to much more to add other than I got some tree limbs to cut up, more leaves to clean up and I have to install all of my solar motion lights.
September 5, 2017
I got started taking down the rotted roof that is over my woodpile. I’m about 50% complete on the job as I demo’ed the worst of rotted and warp boards first and now I’m moving my wood/ wood racks out of the way to finish up the demo of the last parts of the roof. My new wood racks made of pressure treated lumber seem to work great for getting the wood about 5-6 inches off the concrete slab and I’m going to use tarps to cover the wood this winter. So far, I prefer the wood racks I made with pressure treated lumber compared the racks I made with the $20.00 metal brackets and regular 2 x 4s. Using the 4 x 4 pressure treated lumber as a base and then 2 x 4 on top of them gets the wood higher off the concrete compared with using the metal brackets plus the pressured treated wood racks are cheaper over all compared to metal bracket wood racks even with using more expensive pressure treated wood. My wood racks are 18 inch x 4 ft. by 8 ft. and I believe that is what is called a “Face” cord of wood and not a “true” cord of wood which is 4 ft. wide x 4 ft. high and 8 ft. long. I really like having a hard/soft wood mix for my wood stove and out here in the west usually means a mix of pine/fir and fruit woods like apple and cherry. I got a my wood guy delivering a cord or so of some pine/ fir mix next week so now I can make some kindling for the stove. I’m finishing up the last of the elm and while elm burns great it is difficult to split as the grain twists which makes it terrible for ax cut kindling. For our kindling this year Mom and I want to get a load of actual “mill ends” and not “box wood” that I got to start this firewood adventure. I got a small 6 pound splitting maul for those tougher chunks of wood, but I’ll have to re-learn how to use that tool. So far the light weight ax has done a great job for making kindling.
I finally got to use the Ryobi impact hammer drill and my gosh I love it! Okay it is a battery powered drill so I did not expect a lot but it did a great job on removing screws my basic drill could not remove and it was great on driving in screws that defeated my basic 18 volt drill could not handle. I don’t think it would be great for concrete but for working on any wood job I think this little Ryobi drill would handle working with Hardwoods fairly easily. Also this drill extracted screws that defeated my basic drill.
Mom got busy and cleaned up the garden and did some harvesting. Big thing Mom wanted was the “rubber mallet” to re position stakes in the garden. Well I had the ” mallet” in the basement breaking apart shelves and the trying to pound in garden stakes with a 6 pound maul was less than successful. We found the mallet eventually but I learned that bigger is not always better. I’m going to get a small 2 pound maul hammer and a good 1 pound claw hammer. You have to make things work for the job given and some times you need brute force and sometimes you have to go small. Good news we did have success with cantaloupes this year.
June 21, 2017
I got a great tool bargain at Home depot. Rather than buying the drill and getting a free tool instead I bought the 18 volt drill + impact driver set for $99.00 and got the 10% vet discount! So the price was only $89.10 for both tools. I got a 5/8 in. sheet of plywood cut into 2×8 ft.sections for $25.00 and add in eight, 1×3 inch boards to start the basement shelf building project. At this time I’m working to re-enforce and add new shelves to an existing frame work hence the smaller dimensional lumber.
One thing I noticed today is the cashier at Home depot was sort of defensive or tried to explained that the 10% discount did not apply to all items. I’m a disabled vet and I love how some companies give a vet discount but no company is required to give a discount to vets. No cashier needs to be attacked if a vet discount is not applied. If you don’t like the policy, write a letter to corporate or rant on the internet but, leave the cashier alone.
Most or the replacement garden veggies were available for the replacement plants that did not do great from my starts. I bought some sweet corn, celery and sweet potatoes that Mom wants to try growing. No luck so far with finding tomitillo plants but I know from last year those plant start off slow and then explode with growth so I have not given up hope yet! The worst thing that can happen is that raised bed lies fallow and I build up the soil so it is not a bad situation.
This may sound a bit strange but I am more interested in learning how to grow a garden rather than what food a garden can produce. Many people that never had a garden think growing a good garden is easy. It is not easy at all and requires a lot of effort. For me any veggies I get is a bonus, my focus is on building up a sustainable garden out of my own resources. Learning to work with my land and then improve it as much as possible before the need to grow a garden is upon us.
It is very easy for a government to mandate everyone must grow a garden, (ala Venezuela) for food but we all know that just tossing out a few seeds and hope for the best is a terrible way to grow a good garden.
Thursday and Mom does not have a master gardeners BS class to go to so the plan of attack is trim up and perhaps cut down the dead cherry tree and finish up building the stuff needed for the properly built compost pile. My carpentry skills/knowledge are mediocre at best but I have built a few simple things and now I can build “larger” simple projects. I can’t say you can succeed on trying new project. I can guarantee if you never try doing anything new you will fail.