This is going to take some time…..

August 8, 2018

 

The delivery.

Stacking the wood

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 2 cords of wood has been delivered and I am still sore from the rock delivery.  I have to say the wood delivery people are great!  This delivery was easier for them as they only had to dump the wood in one spot (sort of) under the carport and with the rock being mostly in place stacking the wood is much easier for me.   I got caught out last year on late wood delivery and having to scramble for wood going into firewood season and the people at Tuckers timbers came through for me.

I have no understanding of people waiting till the last minute to get basic items need for survival.  I suppose it is a bit of human nature/lazy and this new world order of I can order on line and have it shipped via Amazon. What if there is none of what you want in stock?  All the money in the world won’t make what you want magically appear!  My fire wood lady said they had people ask for firewood delivery in December and could not understand the company was out of fire wood.

I want to give a shout out to Buzy Bee’s rock delivery and I was able to get at least most of the gravel spread in time before the wood delivery.  Getting the materials for fall/winter projects in place does save time  and usually some money.  There are a lot of scammers/bad contractors out there so when you get prompt service at the agreed price especially from a local company,  I think you should boost up these great businesses whenever you get a chance. Buzy Bee’s delivery of 2.75 yards of rock was less expensive per yard than getting rock from the local farm store and I didn’t have to unload the rock.

Mom stopped by the house and got the wheel barrow back after picking up a load of wood from Tucker’s timbers/ my fire wood supplier.  It is my wheel barrow but I loan it to her because I can’t loan her my little garden wagon.  I love my garden wagon and that is one of my NO LOAN tools.  I’ll share the wheel barrow but loaning the wagon is a NO/GO!   LOL

For the next couple of weeks I will be working on finishing up the garden beds and making a proper Tucker ‘the peke’ proof picket fence around the garden.  Cash is a little bit tight right now what with stocking up on low cost meat,  getting the chimney sweep and the rock delivery.  That is more of a matter of timing, rather than not being able to pay my bills.

Hopefully this up coming winter won’t involve scrambling for everything and nothing is available. I have my drainage rock in place, new gravel and mulch that covers most of my alleyway frontage.  Next spring I can start adding plants that will choke out the weeds.  The wood was bought early (Doug fir in April) and will be dried and stacked for easy winter use.  I can’t express how nice it is to see that pile of wood even if I have to stack it as I know my little Casa de Chaos will have dry firewood for heat this winter.  Mom wants to stack a mix of Doug fir and the poplar for her heat this winter.  With her small house and new windows and insulation she should be good to go this winter with a couple of cords of wood.

Knowledge coming at you (disclaimer).

A full cord of wood is at least 128 square feet of stacked firewood.  Generally considered a 4 foot tall 4 foot wide and 8 foot long stack of wood.  Most firewood is cut to 16-18 inch lengths, so a cord of wood stacked could be 12 feet long 5 feet tall and 2 rows of 18 inch cut/split firewood also equals a cord of wood.  There is a little bit of ‘fudge’ factor in that 128 square feet to equal a cord.   Remember it is the cubic volume of the cord of wood must equal at least 128 cubic feet when stacked.  I am now getting a close to full cords of firewood from the new supplier rather than “face” cords via the old supplier.  Oh there is a bit of wiggle room depending on how tight you stack firewood.  Overall I’m getting a much better deal of full cords of  cut and split firewood. Between the early delivery of Douglas fir, the mill ends and two cords of poplar I think  the wood heating is good for this year with a good level of back up wood on hand.  There is nothing wrong with buying a “face” cord or a “rick” of wood.  But you must know what a cord of wood  costs and what it is worth.  If you buy a cord of wood you should get at least 128 sq. feet of  stacked wood.

Gosh I’m getting a bit more wood stacked than I thought in this 100 degree heat. One cord is stacked and now I’m starting on the second cord.  I think there was a bit more than 2 cords delivered to me. Once I stack and measure all the wood. Well sometimes “KARMA” works for you.  I found a great wood supplier and that is making up for the bad wood suppliers I dealt with for wood.  That lost $250.00 I tried to help a person is now paying back to me.

It is amazing the efficiency of the new wood stoves.  While I don’t agree with outlawing old wood stoves. Survival takes precedence over the law in my book.  The new efficient burning wood stove are cleaner burning and safer compared to 70’s/80 era type fire wood stoves.  One of greatest things about the new stoves is they hold heat and the fire longer. This is awesome for a someone with a physical disability to have a firebox stay hot for at least 6 hours and not need feeding  wood every 2-4 hours so you or your pipes don’t freeze. Don’t forget to check your smoke alarms, Carbon Monoxide alarms and your fire extinguishers. I don’t know that you could fight a fire but having a fire extinguishers might help getting out of a fire.

Overall Mom and I have enough firewood to be snug and warm this winter. I’m not sure Mom will buy a cord of my wood as she seems to be making her own stack of fire wood.  That is all to the good as the wood will keep drying if we don’t use it. If we have an easy winter for cold and damp. the firewood only gets another year to dry.  I suspect SW Idaho may have a very cold and mostly dry winter in 2018.  Trust me I’m prepping for snow, but I don’t think it will happen this winter.

My new garden beds have been a bit of bust but that was my fault, not the garden beds.  We are in good shape for going into winter and it is only August.

Socially we are seeing the political pendulum swing back to the right and trying to find it’s center point. We have to hold the line about the difference between legal and illegal immigrants.  Re-building the USA manufacturing sector and imports via tariffs.  Nationalism and globalism and the wjat is good and what is bad about those choices.

I tend to be a Nationalist of USA first,  but international relations are a thing.  The USA can’t stick it’s head in the sand and ignore the world.  You people have “common sense”  what would you do now to make the world if not a better place at least a safer place.   Also you will have to show your work.  No saying everyone should be nice on twitter and some such nonsense.

 

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Installed solar lights, shopping and Tucker is getting though the garden fence

June 2, 2018

I added a couple of small motion activated solar lights around my back door.  It seems that I got the position just about perfect for the lights to activate as a person walks up but the lights don’t go off when my pekes go outside.  It took me a long time to install these lights because you should not drill into vinyl siding as it might deform plus you provide water and insects access to the under lying wood. One of the biggest reasons I added new siding was to protect the ‘bones’ of my house and make the upkeep easier for me to manage. If I start making holes in that siding I’m defeating the original purpose of  installing the siding.

Since I have been watching so many boat refits and sailing videos I have become more knowledgeable about keeping water from getting to wood.  If I can seal against water, the house frame should be safe from insects.  I have the solar lights ‘wedged’ along the roof line cap and the metal part of the siding just to make sure I got the placement correct and the lights charge plus light up the back door entrance.  After a couple of weeks of testing that the lights are placed correctly.  I’ll screw the lights in place and add a sealant to keep out water.

I stocked up a lot last paycheck because there were a lot of great buys on meat and gardening/landscaping items I wanted.  I got a pretty great deal on mulch but I could not afford all the mulch I wanted for filling in the garden and the front yard beds.  The main garden area is mostly done around the raised beds but there is one section I want to build my green house that is bare ground and morning glory that needs to be dealt with this year.  My idea is to layout the greenhouse foundation with concrete piers and build up a layer of small stone for good drainage.  For food shopping I got a lot of meat stocked up and frozen.  Now that I have the new pressure cooker I want to try out a quick ‘bone broth’ recipe. one of the nice things this cooker can be use as a slow cooker for that recipe.

Arrgh! Tucker the peke is getting under my little garden fence.  Actually I may pull down the fence because he is digging into the mulch and not the garden beds.  He is a smart little dog and thrives on praise.  I have scolded him on digging in the garden beds, but let him go on digging in the mulch. Once I finish the install of the ‘frost cloth’ Tucker should have all his digging areas marked out.  Hopefully it won’t be in the garden beds!   Tucker is a great little digger. I need to find a a way for him to dig and turn the compost pile!


New pressure cooker and more mulch!

May 31, 2018

I bought an electric pressure cooker from newegg.com last week and today I tried it out.  The pressure cooker is an Ewant Model BD-QJ . 7 in 1 programmable for everything from yogurt and a slow cooker to a pressure cooker for beans,  rice even sauteing in the stainless steel pot/liner.  There are 3 reasons I bought this  new pressure cooker: #1 I needed a new pressure cooker for my kitchen. #2 It was on sale for $45.00 at newegg.com, which isn’t a bad price for a large 12 cup pressure cooker. #3  I have been cooking a lot of grains (brown rice/barley) for the homemade doggy food and wanted something that cooked grains  faster and meats ‘fall apart’ tender.  I made my first batch of brown rice, chicken thighs with peas and carrots doggy food and it worked out great!

Recipe: Brown rice, chicken thighs with peas and carrots, doggy food.

3 cups of water

2 cups brown rice

4-5 chicken thighs

8 oz. frozen peas and carrots

Optional 2 tablespoons of Coconut oil

Add the 3 cups of water, 2 cups of brown rice and the coconut oil, place the small steamer grate on top of the rice and add the chicken thighs. Select Multi-grain or the Brown rice setting for 20 minutes and walk away… At the end of the 20 minutes release the pressure. While the rice and meat are still hot,  add the frozen veggies then stir so the residual heat thaws the veggies. This also helps stop the cooking process and cools the pot of dog food quickly.

The rice has a creamier consistency and the chicken thigh meat almost fell off the bone. This recipe makes cooking up a batch of dog food easier and much faster compared to cooking the brown rice on the stove top and then baking and cutting up the chicken thigh meat.

I also tried out a new white long grain rice recipe that is awesome!

White rice recipe:

2 cups of white rice

3 cups of water

1 table spoon of coconut oil (Replaces butter)

Rinse off the rice until the water runs clear. Place the water, rice and coconut oil in a large 6 quart pan and bring it to a boil.  As soon as it boils place a tight lid or tinfoil over the pot and turn the heat down to a low simmer then walk away for 12-15 minutes. When the is no standing water in the pot, set the rice off the heat, leave covered for 10 minutes and walk away again. Fluff the rice with a fork or wooden spoon and you will have great white rice.

I made good white rice before adding the coconut oil but that oil really makes a huge difference with the rice’s look and mouth feel.  The individual bits are soft and chewy without any gluey/starch affect.  I did not add any salt or stocks as these test were for doggy food but I taste test these recipes.  They are a little bland, but you could easily add herbs and spices and make a good human meal from these basic recipes.

Things I have learned so far making homemade dog food:

  • The internet is a great resource and it is also full of bad info for making dog food so check with your Vet. and always start with what you know is safe and introduce the food over time.  Also dogs have likes and dislikes so one dog may love white rice, some like beef or like chicken. Peas and carrots seem like the most popular veggie for my dogs but broccoli or green beans will do in a pinch.
  • Adding herbs for flavor,  Many herbs are safe and very beneficial to dogs such as oregano or mint.  Garlic, onions and chives are not doggy friendly flavoring so keep those away from your dog food.  White flour is very bad for dogs and wheat flour is not much better but many dog foods use wheat grains.  Think of your dog being somewhat ‘Gluten-Intolerant’ when you make the dog food.  Corn, rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, steel cut oats can make would be a better carb. than any wheat product. Barley and I have read that corn meal are safe to feed dogs but I have not confirmed using corn meal.
  • Using coconut oil in place of butter for cooking rice is something I never considered but there is some preliminary research that coconut oil ‘might” reduce the bad bacteria that causes tooth decay/gum disease in dogs.  Since coconut oil is safe for dogs I have added it into the rice for dogs but it made the white rice so much better I have added coconut oil instead of butter to my white rice recipe as a safe fat to add to doggy food.

More mulch needs to be added to get a deep layer to kill out weeds. I went out the other day to prep the Three sisters beds and I used the D-shaped hoe to get a few weeds in the beds and around then and that tool worked very well weeding the mulch pathways.  I’m not so sure about the garden beds.  I’m not sure I’ll see more production for this year’s garden as I’m trying so many new beds and money and timing has been a bit problematic.  I think I’ll be okay if I get everything in by the weekend of June 2-3 and the latest with starts by the 9-10th of June.  That still gives me 120-150 days till harvest planting from seed.

 


Wind warning and a few updates

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.


New slippers and a sled

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.

 

 


Burning pine in the wood stove

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.

  1. A “smudge” type fire that just sort of smolders and smokes without putting out a lot of heat.
  2. 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.


House pictures!

December 16, 2017
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Front Entry

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.

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This is the before pic after the roof was added

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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.

Other happenings:

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.