Almost 70 degrees F. and started cleaning up the raised beds

March 7, 2020

It was a cloudy day but very warm for the first week of March.  It is staying above freezing at night, so starting a fire in the evening heats the house for a warm morning wake up temp.  My fire wood  use is much lower this month.  That will save my existing firewood pile just in case getting wood deliveries goes a little sideways this year.  I think I have enough fire wood for next winter already on hand.  I will feel much better about the wood pile if I could add another four cords stacked up and ready to burn.  Using the Carport area for fire wood has been great. I think it will help give me more time to stack wood deliveries as the wood will be under some overhead cover and protected from rain.  The little split Doug fir/kindling box seemed to work out but I need to be more proactive getting the box filled by fall.

I finally got started cleaning up two of the raised garden beds with the most leftover plants from last year.  The beds looked a bit ignored and abandoned but I found many onions have reseeded themselves and I have some lettuce that is coming back though a few leaves got frost nipped.  I’m rotating the crops in the beds as I had one large bed and 3 beds stay fallow.  I neglected those beds last year because I was doing all that fire wood stacking during gardening “Prime Time”.  I’m going to be optimistic and say all those raised beds needed to rest and it was all part of my plan.   I filled up one garbage can full of grape vines and yard trash so it was a good week.

Gardens of any sort will be a thing when people start to realize the supply chain of goods into the west start having hiccups in the delivery systems.  Things won’t just  get expensive.  Some items won’t be available at any price.  That is okay as you can substitute items or stock up  ahead of time.  The time to stock up on some items has been limited but not impossible.  I am a news geek/fiend and I was a bit concerned around the second week in January.  While I had stocked up for the 2014 Ebola scare with masks and Tyvek suits when I could afford to buy those products I was not panic buying.  I knew what I could afford to spend and bought what I could afford.

Poor people (I’m considered poor via government standards) had the month February to get a couple bottles of bleach, canned goods, rice , beans and other basic supplies.  Most people in the USA had plenty of time to do some stocking up without cleaning out the local grocery shelves. Stop wasting your money buying bottled water!  Tap water will flow and if you don’t like the taste buy a PUR/ Brita water filter.  Power/ electricity  or gas pumps are not going to stop working in the few weeks.  Even if the water supply gets a bit iffy for safe drinking water you can boil water of add a few drops of chlorine bleach to make safe drinking water.

I think the Supply chain will take a major hit and many of the goods/products will be in short supply for a few months.  Clothing items for example might be in short supply in stores.  Electronic items or even major appliances might go up in cost or be in short supply.  That is the Higher cost items going a bit harder to get.  There will be pain as the Globalist economy setup is taking a big hit in the markets.  Many people are whining about how life is getting less convenient for them.  That is life and “stuff happens”.

I suggest stocking up on “herbals” for basic home remedies.  I had no idea so many of the pharmaceuticals  have been off shored to China and India.  I don’t blame any country declaring all medical items will go to local citizens first. We might see anti-anxiety meds start to dry up.  That is not a good thing as some people can have a psychotic break when the Zoloft or other medications are unavailable.

In a way, I’m optimistic that people will learn the Globalist maximize short term profit over long term sustainability will get a look by people.  Yes that is a very optimistic mindset on me.  The data from the Corona virus/Covid 19 looks like about 80% of people will have flu like symptoms and recover.  I have a compromised immune system so I will probably be in the 20% of very ill if I catch the corona virus.  My Mom has Fybro and at 70+ years old is an at risk person to this flu.   I have read about many people on the internet that seem to hope boomers die as that means kids can buy a home cheap…?  It could be a meme but is disturbing to me.


Starting the garden plants. Buy stuff now in case of the supply chain collapse!

March 2, 2020

I’m gathering all my Seeds, grow lamp and starter pots for this year’s garden.  Last year I started to early (mid Feb.) and many of my plants died because it was to early to plant before the frost date.  Last year was also a little crazy with a very damp and cool May and June so the tomatoes and peppers did not grow very well.  This year I’m starting a couple of weeks later and I’m adding a lot of small planters just in case I need to transfer my seedlings before the raised beds are ready for planting due to weather.

This last winter has been long but it did not get cold and the ground never had a hard freeze.  So while I’m still cutting kindling for the wood stove. I can get started on clean up of the raised beds, turn the soil over and prep the beds for planting.  I want to try an experiment with one raised bed draping the PVC frames in clear heavy duty plastic to make a mini green house for planting early cole crops like broccoli.  Depending on the soil temp and air temp of the mini green house I could start some greens for early spring salads.  I think having a garden full off fresh veggies is going to darned important this year!  We will see the supply chain in the USA have some hiccups.

You may have seen some the panic buying on the west coast on the internet.  It seems bottled water, beans and rice are the new disaster supply rather that the milk, bread and eggs “Disaster Prep”!  I don’t think water will stop coming out of the tap or the power going out anytime soon.  So buying a lot of bottled water is silly and a waste of money right now.  If you filter your tap water like I do, a couple of extra water filters would be money well spent.  I don’t thing the electrical grid will go down anytime soon. So you can probably skip buying a generator or a bunch of gasoline or fuel to cook your food.  Your internet and phone probably won’t suddenly stop working.   You want to have your utility bills paid so they keep running so have money on hand to keep those bills up to date.  Manufacturing jobs will probably have some lay offs or furloughs.  Start hoarding your money/cash, so you can keep basic bills paid if the school closes down and some one has to be at home with kids.

While everyone is going crazy about the Stock market and Wall street, I think the BIG STORY in the next 4-6 weeks will be the Supply chain breaking down.  We know that most stores are full of cheap china crap, but your coffee comes either from Africa or south/central America.  Tea, Chocolate are also food products that are not grown here in the USA.  I’m not just talking about these products becoming expensive.  Some of the products may not be available for any price!  I suspect the produce section of the local grocery stores will get more limited on selection and out of season produce prices will probably go up.  If you have not tried growing a garden this is great time to get a few seeds or plant starts and try out that container/herb garden or raised bed garden or a perma-culture set up in your yard.  What ever idea you have thought about trying to garden. You now have a great motivation to get started.  Another bonus of a garden is it will help keep you busy if you or your family get quarantined for 2-4 weeks.  Having to stay home during a quarantine does not mean you have to stay always indoors.

Take time to think and not just panic/stampede with the herd.

  1. If people are crowding around a store, go to a different store.  Sure Costco/Sam’s club might have great prices but if the shelves are empty all you did is expose your self to a crowd and did not get what you wanted to buy. If you are standing in a long line you are preparing wrong.  Leave, try a different store or try shopping at a different time.
  2. Make a list of what you need/want and if something on the list is not available, get the next item.
  3. Think outside of the box!  I got my P100 masks in the little home improvement/tools section of my local Fred Meyers at the end of January when Home Depot/Lowes were completely sold out of masks of any sort.  Fred Meyers still had masks.  If you missed out on buying masks wait until the panic buyers and profiteers find out the market is saturated. Then the price will drop and then you can get those items like masks.  Panic buying seldom lasts more than a couple of weeks as people just can’t afford the high prices or refuse to pay the profiteers.
  4. Get stuff for treating the flu symptoms!  Vitamins, cough syrup, decongestants.  Herbal teas, honey, lemon juice, Essential oils. Aspirin non-aspirin fever/pain relievers, juices, gatorade ginger ale or sprite.  What ever you want to have on hand for a cold/flu.
  5. Bleach and spray bottles for disinfection.  A couple dollars for a quart or 1/2 gallon of bleach, diluted with a couple cups  water poured into a spray bottle will disinfect every thing in your house for a couple of months.  I like the Lysol Multi purpose cleaner in lemon scent and Mountain fresh scent.  I have no idea how much a bottle costs today as I got a couple of bottles in Nov./Dec of last year at $1.49 for a 32 oz. spray bottle on sale at Family dollar store.

This little Pandemic/new flu is going to take at least another 6-18 months to work out the new NORMAL.  So far it looks like the 80% of people get FLU symptoms, 10% get very sick and about 5-10%  put a respirator level of sick.  The Corona virus is out in the world and we will have deal with it.  I can lay blame on China or the CDC and politicians, but blame is irrelevant at this point.  Corona virus/ Covid-19 is here in the USA and everyone has to deal with it.

 


A little snow today and a cold spell. Scored on some good FLU preps

February 3, 2020

We are having  “cold snap” at least in comparison to most of winter this year.  Got a little snow and Freezing temps with gusty winds to start off February.  I got out today and cut a box of kindling for Mom and a sweatshirt was all additional protection that was needed to stay warm.  25-30 degrees F. feels cold after a week of 50-55 degree F. temps last week.  It has been a long winter but it has not been a cold winter here in the Treasure valley.  I have used about 1/3-1/2 of my wood pile so far and that is with Mom buying a couple of pick up loads of wood from me.  I figure about 2-4 cords of wood will be the average wood use for winter heating.  Even the bad winter of 2016-17 wasn’t that bad except my wood was wet and did not have time to season/dry properly.   This will probably be the last month of winter weather, though March will have some damp chilly weather. I’ll be starting the fire just to take the chill off the house rather than starting a fire to warm the house.   Mom is having a problem keeping her wood dry so this summer we need to build a few wood racks and hopefully start stacking wood early to give it the maximal time to dry.  Rather than just buying buying wood to burn in the fall to burn that winter heating season.  It takes a bit of time to build up a  seasoned wood pile on a fixed income.

I’m splitting my Doug Fir for kindling and split a good size box of kindling for Mom but I’m now splitting and filling up a box of those split doug fir to go with the kindling as the in between size of chunks of firewood and kindling.  Of course it is logical how to make a good easy to start fire! It took me a couple of years to actually set aside and split wood to that in between size of kindling and normal firewood!  I think my idea of the kindling wood box was correct but I’ll be splitting most of the firewood and letting it dry for a bit and then split that wood into kindling.

I think both Mom and I are ready for the WUFLU.  I gave Mom some Tyvek suits, masks and a box of gloves that she was a little lacking on for her supplies.   I bought a few bottles of Hydrogen peroxide as most of bottles were older and probably not as effective.  I shopped Family Dollar and they had a store brand concentrated bleach in the 6% range.  Since unsealed bleach will lose effectiveness in 6-12 months I bought a couple of smaller bottles to make sanitizer.  Remember when using a hard surface sanitizer you want to spritz and don’t wipe it off the surface for at least a minute or two and give the sanitizer time to kill the virus/bacteria/bugs.  Let the sanitizer dry naturally if at all possible.   I’m a big fan of liquid soap pump bottles and washing your hands often.  I don’t care for anti-bacterial soaps or hand sanitizer as I think create super bugs.  I still carry and have started using hand sanitizer outside my home as a precaution.

You are the first aid/medical for a cold/flu or any illness.  You want to prevent infections if possible and if someone gets sick you want to support the patient’s immune system to get better.  I’ve made bone broth, I’ll be making Chicken soup.  You can add vitamins, essential oils, colloidal silver to help support a person’s immune system.  You can put yourself into a quarantine against the WUFLU if you see an outbreak within 100 miles of your home town.  You will have to decide the risk level you will accept,  While the number coming out of China is suspect I’m glad that the recovered now outnumber the dead.

FYI: I got the flu/cold and it developed into pneumonia and then it developed into my immune system attacking nervous system.  Guillaume Barre/CIDP.  I spent over 4 months in a VA Extended Care Unit. I was so weak I could not put on socks or lift cup of water.  You don’t want that to happen to you.  Don’t panic, just buy the basics of food cold medicine if you are low make some bone broth, real chicken soup and stay away from crowds.  Once the “Panic Buying” is over in 2-4 weeks, then start stocking up on masks and goggles and other Protective gear.  Protective gear does not spoil, so once you have the basics on hand you are good to go.

Don’t panic and don’t buy gear at the highest price.  Most likely you will “quarantine” yourself. So have your home self care maxed out with food, basic cold medicines. Stay safe and just wait for the Flu of any sort, burn itself out.  Already more people in China are being declared recovered than those that have died.  I know it is tough to wait and see what happens with this flu.  Heck I don’t trust the US government numbers little lone the Chi-coms info/numbers.  But look at what you can do with the info you have already on hand.

  1. Treat the symptoms of the flu.
  2. Stay away from crowds.
  3. Wash your hands.
  4. Sanitize work spaces or yourself.
  5. Build up your immune system.

Nothing new with dealing with colds or the flu, except this flu seems to have a nasty pneumonia/bronchitis component as standard. It is a nasty flu bug but with good supportive health care in the home, it should not be as bad as what is happening in China.  Now if you are treating the flu and it gets worse as the patient is having problems breathing of can’t take fluids/food.  Call the hospital and let them know the symptoms before you self transport.  At that point it is best to be overly safe rather than sorry.

This post is getting into the TLDR territory but I don’t think anyone that has prepared should “freak out”.  It is just a cold, or just the flu until it is pneumonia and you need some additional health care.  300 people sick in a country of 330 million is not an epidemic.

 


Broken PC and The Wuhan Flu/ global epidemic?

January 26, 2020

My PC has been down but I’m still alive!

I’m building a new PC and things are not working out the way I had anticipated.  I’m sorry to say I went OS 10 to get my PC hardware working.  Some good news is Office 2003 still works for Windows 10. I used a demo version of Windows 10 downloaded from Microsoft website.  FYI  don’t pick the N version of MS10.  If you do down load the Media center update.  You will need that software to get your AMD video drivers to work.

If you have upgraded to an AMD Ryzen capable mother board.  Windows 7 will not work, as all mother board USB ports won’t work.  AMD and Win 7 have not done any thing about backward compatibility.  I’m upgrading to about 2015 tech and Win 7 does not support my new mother board.  Windows 10 GUI is awful to use.  No program drop down via the start menu.  Evey thing is treated as an APP rather than a program.  I’m a geek and I don’t like windows 10.  If you prefer a PC that seems to act like a tablet or a smart phone, this could be the OS for you!

I’m a little concerned about this “FLU” coming out of the Wuhan province, but I’m not panicked, despite the symptoms seem to settle down into bronchitis/pneumonia in a couple of weeks. The Chinese government seems to be downplaying the illness, yet the government is being very heavy handed with “Quarantine Zones”.

What I suspect is a “Flu virus” escaped the level 4 bio-contain facility and mutated.  This might seem a bit contradictory to that theory as the pork prices have skyrocketed due to the “pig flu” going on in China.  People can’t afford pork, so they buy bats,rats and less costly protein.  You have a population struggling to buy safe/good protein that is no longer available  and a level 4 bio-containment lab working and living in this city.

I don’t think any of this is the result of a pre-planned idea.  Just a muddle that blows up with us humans that think we are super smart!

What should you do?  If you have been following this blog for awhile, not much!  I did a lot or prepping for any sort of Ebola outbreak coming to the USA a few years ago.  I have plenty of bunnysuits, masks, face masks, goggles and face shields  to protect from spewing blood rather than a cough or a sneeze. Keep clean, stop touching your face and treat this as flu/cold until the person has bronchitis/pneumonia.  Perhaps then take the person to the hospital.  I don’t have much confidence in hospitals treating people with diseases with simple support they could get at home.  Sure they have IV’s but hospitals don’t make a good Bone broth or Chicken soup!   What I’m talking about is supporting a patient, treating the symptoms at home. Be it a basic cold or the new WU FLU.  The medical community has not been a shining light.  The latest Flu vaccine is less than 40% effective combating this years flu in the USA.  The vaccine makers do their best, but it it is not a get out of being sick shot.

If you are wondering what you need to have on hand?  The list is very simple. I’d say you should focus on getting items for any very bad flu season.

  1. Bleach and other anti-viral cleaning agents
  2. Protective gear like masks but don’t forget protective goggles as this virus can infect via the eyes as well as nose and mouth.
  3. It might be to late to get protective respirators or masks unless you buy high end $75.00+ full face respirator masks.
  4. I have not check out protective “Bunny Suits” like Tyvek/Tychem but I expect those are in as low supply as protective masks.
  5. Treat the symptoms and support the patient with good foods, liquids, OTC medicines and good care.
  6. If things get out of hand with the WU Flu. Have the ability to stay at home for 2-3 weeks.

The odds are that you won’t see or treat the corona virus in the USA.  Use this as a test about the supplies you have on hand.  One thing I never anticipated is family members buying up medical supplies  in the USA and shipping those products to China.  People doing this makes a lot sense, though I’m not sure how the supplies will get delivered in cities that are quarantined.

I know Information is lacking but we need to watch how this works out.  Declaring a quarantine in a city of 11 million people in China is easy but how can that city function without food and energy deliveries?  Who is picking up the trash, maintaining the water and sewage systems?  Unless the population is prepared for an emergency, a couple of breaks in the “supply chain” could be catastrophic.

New York City has a population of 8.5 million.  Can you imagine the US government trying to close down all deliveries of food, fuel and people moving in and out of that city?  China is trying to do that for several cities with a total population of 56 million.  The corona virus will spread because the Chinese lost control and the ability to hide the spread.  How bad the spread and death count is yet to be seen.

Don’t panic!  Just use this time to fix any areas of preparations you are lacking.  Remember when Fukishima Melted down and Iodine tablets sold out and no one really needed to take Iodine tablets because the radiation level dropped quickly a couple of hundred miles outside of the Fukishima zone?  I think concern is warranted, panic seems unwarranted at this time. You don’t have to build a Biological containment lab, just take a few simple precautions.


News hyperventilating over an 1-3 inches of snow in Idaho in January!

January 12, 2020

This a bit embarrassing about how a this massive snow storm was going to hit SW Idaho and the news blew it all out of proportion again!  It snowed most of the morning in the Treasure valley and did not even stick to the sidewalks or roads because it got so warm (40 F.+) by 3:00 pm.   The mountains got a lot of snow which is normal and needed for the spring and summer irrigation season.  This is kind of the norms for winter snowfalls in the Treasure valley.

The over the top hype that any sort of weather event makes it very difficult to make plans to prepare.  I’m sure you see the same sort of “Cry Wolf” type of hype in your area be it rain, hail, thunderstorms, tornadoes and hurricanes.  The weather service is naming snow storms,  rather than how we named the winter of 1977 or that cold winter back in 1983.  Heck even the Snowmegeddon of 2016 gives a good idea that we had a tough winter.  I have no problem with informing people of bad weather and to be prepared and careful.  This sort of hyperbolic scare tactics via the media just serves no purpose other than to scare and stress people.  Then again perhaps that is the purpose of those “Headlines/Warnings”.

I have to say I like my little weather station with barometer.  I won’t say it forecasts the weather, but between that station, my arthritis and my nose smelling rain or snow I’m probably making as accurate guess as the local news weatherman up to 48 hours out. Heck I can download the same radar/satellite cloud cover that the weathermen get daily.   Oh I want to give some love to the Old Farmer’s Almanac folks as they have correct about the general weather for this winter across the entire USA.  It’s amazing how 150-200 years of written observations might have some insight about forecasting the weather long term.  You think the “Climate Change” folks would want to look at that data set.

I did prepare for this “storm” in making sure my front porch wood rack was full.  That is about it as there was no forecast of several days of below 20 degree temps. I did not salt my front sidewalks.  The wind is blowing in the 30-40 mph range and that could cause a power outage with downed lines so I’m getting laundry and vacuuming done. I have a fridge and 2 freezers out on the porch or in an non insulated shop so all food that should be cold should stay cold with little input needed from me.  Heck I have been preparing for almost a decade, so a normal snow storm in winter should a non-event.

How many of you have noticed the Weather service, local news weatherman hyping any sort of “Weather” like it is the end times and not like the weather you saw as kids or from parents/grandparents?  The Dust bowl of the 1930’s was brutal and it was not all caused by farmers.  I remember back in the 1980 that the Mt. Ste. Hellen’s volcanic explosion would kill farming in the PNW and all that ash killed the bugs and Eastern Washington had a great wheat harvest.  I wonder how many people benefit from adverce weather in a couple years after the EVENT. I understand the early Freeze was bad.  I understand Midwest rivers flooding was bad.  Is there a good side to the flooding? Is the adding silt from the river banks over flowing a good thing in the long run?  I’m just asking because I don’t know that type of farming.  I know flooding is generally bad in the short term of 1-3 years.  (For every for a small farmer in debt) Is the land coming back and starting to produce?

Sorry this post is getting into the TLDR area.  Start getting your seeds and planning your garden.  Depending on your general frost date,you need to be starting those seed to start those “Cole Crop seeds” indoors in February/March.

I have sharpened my axe but I can’t seem to put a good edge on my hatchet.  I think my sharpen angle is wrong for the hatchet.  I have a ordered a new stone that has a guide to use for creating/maintaining a 15-20 degree angle.  Not perfect but that new stone should help me in making a good edge on both knives and axes.


Shortest day of the year was Beautiful!

December 24, 2019

There has been a warm breeze blowing and the temp. hit a high of 60 degrees F. at my house.  This day was a treat for getting firewood stacked and getting some of the firewood split into smaller chunks that can then be split into kindling.  The axe finally has a good cutting edge. The new hardwood stump makes splitting firewood much faster and easier compared to the first sharpening attempts I made on the axe when I bought it.   I have to work on the hatchet edge as I must have screwed up the angle of the blade edge during the last sharpening session.  The hatchet edge is not terrible for cutting kindling but it cut a lot better before the last sharpening session I did before cutting kindling a week or two ago.

Mom got another box of kindling last week so I’m staying ahead of our kindling needs this winter burning season.  Mom had a small problem with her wood stove chimney not working and her house filled with smoke!  No casualties and the worst that happen is Mom got some excitement, learned her smoke alarms need to be in a different location and she met some nice boys from the local fire department.  It looks like the so called “Chimney Sweep” did not clean the Baffles/secondary combustion area of her wood stove.  She got a recommendation for a new Chimney sweep and was very pleased with the quick service she got from this new company.  I’ll be using this company to clean my wood stove next year as I have not been pleased with my most recent chimney sweeps.  People get dead, homes get damaged from chimney fires and clogged chimneys!  I went through a chimney fire back as a child. No one was hurt but it made me very “anal retentive” about having the safest firewood stove possible.  I have the chimney swept every year.  I have two fire extinguishers in my house that are in exit ways from bedrooms to the exit doors.  You must have safety measures to prevent house fires and if the house fire happens, you are alerted and you can fight your way out of the burning house.  The more effort you put into ensuring BAD Things don’t happen often makes those BAD Things not happen!

I have cleared all wood from my Douglas Fir, walk/breeze way firewood storage area.  So far this winter I have not used a lot of fire wood even with helping Mom out with some kindling every couple of weeks.  January/early February  tend to be the coldest winter months and is when I used the most fire wood.  So far this winter has been relatively warm.  There is a lot of difference between 10 degrees F. being your low or your high temp. for the day!  So while we did get an early frost and snow.  This winter has been mild,  with temperatures in the 20’s and 30’s for highs this winter.  It seems that my planning for a Snowmeggedon event like 2016/2017 winter has paid off with no 18 inches + of snow for the last two years. City roads not plowed or watching cars literally buried in snow along the street.  It often seems if you are ready for the “worst”.  The worst doesn’t happen!  Then again if you are prepared for the worst, you already have a plan in place and it’s no longer the worst thing ever to happen to you.  This warm day was a gift and it will get a bit snowy and cold by Xmas.

I’m trying something new for Xmas dinner of a rack of pork loin/chops and roasted brussel sprouts/sweet potato veggie mix.  I can cook a good BBQ turkey, my Prime ribs seem to be good tasting to most people.  Why not try something different? I’m roasting a pork loin/chops this year.  We will see if it a good holiday meal.  I doubt it will be bad as my Rotisserie cooks meat well without over cooking it.  Roasting veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts in a toaster oven add a bit of crunch/texture and the high heat of the oven releases the vegetable’s sugars and flavors without the veggies getting mushy or over cooked via boiling in water.  Never pass up an opportunity to add flavor to food via a cooking method.  Also be careful not to over season your food.  Sometimes less is more especially with vegetables.

Merry Christmas to all of you!


Fire wood area cleanup is done and chopping kindling

December 13, 2019

The Doug fir area cleanup went much faster than I had anticipated. Some firewood  is still in the walk way, but it is less than 4 feet high and two layers deep.  I suspect most of that firewood will be on my porch wood rack or cut into kindling in the near future.  I got rid of the oversized tarp that was great at capturing leaves and water. Somewhat less effective on keeping the firewood dry.  While large tarps can be attractive to cover stuff to keep dry. The tarps are also good funneling that water onto firewood or other things you want to keep dry.  In my experience using smaller tarps covering firewood is  better compared to large tarps that are difficult to work with, can be caught by the wind and can hold a lot of water/debris.  So far the carport/ awning area has been the best area for storing and seasoning wood.

I got some more kindling cut for the kindling box.  Now most of my  cut kindling sized wood is around a 1/2 inch thick or less in diameter.  I’ll be adding a few thicker chunks of wood in the 1-2 inch in diameter range. For that sort of in-between stage from kindling to larger chunks of split firewood.  This is a much easier task with the hard wood stump Mom gave me and I finally got the axe sharpened properly to cut wood.  Now I can split that fire wood in a stroke or two of the axe. It has taken a bit of effort to sharpen the axe.  I’m not quite there, with a sharp hatchet.

It might seem a waste of time sharpening a tool first,  rather than get to cutting right away.  Even 10 minutes of “proper/correct”  sharpening an axe, hatchet or chainsaw will make you much more productive by the end of the day. My hatchet is no longer sharp.  It is sort of bonking off wood rather than splitting wood because it is a wedge, rather than a “cutting” tool.

While cutting kindling is not one of my favorite things to do.  I sort of like splitting fire wood into smaller, more easily burnable chunks of wood.  It might be I like splitting wood because my sharpened axe is good at cutting wood. also I can split more wood quickly compared to cutting kindling!

They kittens were busy climbing trees, getting on the shop roof and figuring a way to get off the shop roof. Ashe the kitten relaxing in front of the wood stove.

Ashe warms the tummy

tired kitten

Ashe still warming the tummy

Tege the kitten  has a bit darker coloring and more spots along with the Tiger stripes.   Tege the kitten is a bit more proper in following cat protocol.

Tege sits on the warm Computer box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m trying to get better pics of the kittens but I’m terrible at photography. There might be a a bit Bengal genes thought the Mama cat was a solid gray color.  All of the kittens I have seen from this mother cat tend to have higher shoulders that slope down the spine to the lower hips.  It gives the kittens a very panther/jaguar, wild cat sort of look in profile. While ocelots have a tan/tawny coat  along with stripes and spots.  Both of my kitten are a mixture of shades of black and grey, with a bit of Tan belly with crazy spots on the belly mixed with stripes.   I’m very pleased with the kittens though I have been a bit bloodied by the kittens climbing me.  A little spray bottle of water as a deterrent seems very effective for correcting.   unacceptable behavior.

 


Gosh the fire feels good….

December 9, 2019

The Treasure Valley has about 3 days of dry weather and cool nights happening this week.  I am getting to work  fixing the Doug Fir wood pile as my tarps got blown off the wood pile and is not keeping all the wood dry. It seems the a couple of tarps are funneling rain water down on to part of the wood stack.  I pulled off the big tarp that did a great job catching leaves and water.  Not such a great job keeping the fire wood dry.   I’m going to clear the firewood from the walk way between my wood racks, then cover the wood with smaller but more closely fitting tarps across the top of the  wood stacks.  My hope is that having the walkway area clear of wood will create a breezeway so the wind keep the firewood drying to help “season” the fire wood long term.

Mom picked up another box of the Doug fir kindling.  She wants to pay me for the wood and the effort I make cutting kindling but I have no idea what to charge or how to cost it out.  She is my Mom and I want her to be warm and have fairly easy way to start a wood fire.  Now the basic box of kindling  should last about 7-10 days worth of starting a daily wood fire.  It takes cutting about 4 chunks of the split Doug fir to fill the kindling box.  Plus about 30-45 minutes of splitting the wood into kindling size pieces.  Perhaps about $10.00-$20.00 per month to keep the kindling box full?  I  don’t charge Mom for the fire starters as she assisted with the wax for making the fire starters.

I used my little battery powered chainsaw to try and “level” my wood stump.  It sort of worked, but my hands gave out after a few minutes of the vibrating chainsaw skimming along the top of the stump.  It is a first trial but I think a few more passes with the chain saw will get into the good solid wood of the stump.  This a tall and somewhat old stump I’m using the chainsaw to try and make the top of the stump a bit more flat to cut kindling.  The wood cutting stump Mom gave me is working great with just a couple of 3/4 inch shims of lumber.  With the shorter cutting stump and the sharpened axe I’m cutting through wet and knotty Doug fir in one or two strike of the axe.  The wood I cut is not always the best for kindling but in about 45 minutes worth of work I can split the firewood into pieces then use the hatchet to cut kindling for 7-10 days.  If I ever fill that kindling box. I’ll have at least a one year’s worth of firewood stove kindling for both Mom and myself.

A report on the new muffin paper cup fire starters:  The muffin cups are a bit larger/fuller of the sawdust and wax, but don’t have the cardboard egg carton paper to assist with starting a fire.  Overall I consider the standard size muffin papers fire wood starters a success.  I’ve tried using old candles, “white wax” candles from the local dollar stores making these fire starters.  What seems to work best is paraffin wax from the canning section.  Will old candles work?  Yes, but not very well even with mixing with clear paraffin wax. I recommend buy the “canning wax” for making your own  fire starters.

Back to the title of this post the warmth of the wood stove feels better to me after doing work on the wood pile.  The satisfaction of cutting your kindling, making “firestarters” , stacking fire wood and bringing wood into the house to burn is so satisfying.  I buy split fire wood and have it delivered but I stack and often re-stack that wood to get the best output of heat.  Now I am getting better at controlling that heat and now my whole house is warm.  It is a great feeling!  The fire feels so much warmer because of all the effort.

I can’t say enough good things about the Hotpoint rotating fans of 12′ behind the wood stove and the larger 16′ fan pushing the heat through my house through door ways and around walls. Just 2 fans now push the heat to the backside of my house.  Great fans get them on sale if you can afford it!  I’m excited to see how well the fans work moving air next summer.

 


A warm, wet winter?

December 7, 2019

It has been a “warm” and wet winter so far in the Treasure valley.  7 Dec 2019 and the high temp. was 55 degrees F.  The rain was an on/off again sprinkle and the winds were light to non-existent.  The storm last week was breezy but the temp. was about 30-35 degrees F.  That is warm for a “Winter Storm  Warning”.  I have no clue how winter will go into January but so far the forecasts suggest a mild and damp winter.  That forecast can change quick if the cold arctic air shifts to the west side of the Rockies or the Sierras/Blue mountains of Washington and Oregon.  I suppose it is human nature to forecast the “worst” potential weather.  That can come back and bite the forecaster on the butt for raising the alarm and “crying wolf”.  I feel for those people because if they down play a storm and a blizzard happens, they are destroyed on twitter.  But if they hype a storm and nothing happens, they are destroyed on twitter!

I know I’m “preaching to the choir” but prepare for the worse and hope for the best.  I was prepared for a normal winter in 2016/2017 when snowmeggedon happened in SW Idaho.  I bought many tools from a propane “Dragon Torch” to melt ice, a snow blower, 100+ pounds of ice melt and sand.  My 6 gallon Shop vac got quite the work out sucking up melting snow in my shop. I added mulch drainage rock and gravel to my driveway around my shop.  While it is still early into the test I have not seen any water or dampness on my shop floor.  IIRC, the shop almost always had a a bit of dampness or water on parts of the shop floor before I added the mulch and gravel.  Often you are trying to keep things safe, dry or holding back the flood waters.  You are building stuff to be more resilient, as you deal with any little minor disasters that come your way.

Perhaps I’m an outlier but why do so few Youtubers use leather gloves?  I’m no “Safety Sally” to tell others they are being unsafe working with tools.  But cutting/splitting wood with a good leather glove seems to be a no-brainier if just because of avoidable splinters.   People go on and on about Chainsaw chaps, helmets, safety googles and hearing protection and no one mentions using a good pair of leather gloves.   Well I’m going to say a good pair of leather gloves is required for working on a homestead!  I have had my some what sharp hatchet/axe hit my leather gloved hand and no bruise, no cut and no splinters. Mink oil is great for keeping the gloves water-resistant, soft and flexible.

I made the first test batch of making fire starters in “muffin papers”.   The volume of the muffin paper fire starters is about 2 x the volume of the egg carton fire starters and the muffin paper cups don’t have the dense cardboard that holds the egg carton type fire starters.   I don’t see this being a problem as I use one sheet of news paper wrapped around the fire starter and placed under the kindling.  I think cardboard egg cartons make a great base for making fire starters but if you have chickens or get your eggs from people that want those egg cartons returned.  Burning those egg carton in a fire could be a bad thing.   Muffin papers can be bought for about one dollar for 100 cups/papers.  Much cheaper than buying egg cartons to make fire starters.

Update: So far the muffin tin works for making fire starters in muffin papers.  I’m going to add some “white paraffin”  dollar store candles for a test of the wax melting pot and if they are good fire starter fuel.  Old fragrance and colored candles don’t seem work very well as fire starters wax.  I found a bunch of strike anywhere wooden matches.  Starting a fire with one match has been a thing I grew up with,  you can do all the prep on the fire you can but you need to start the fire with just one match! Sure I have bic and butane lighters that can start a fire, but for me starting a fire with just one wooden match always seems special.  I have paper, chopped kindling, dry/split fire wood.  The only thing that compares is restarting a fire from last night’s coals.

It is a simple thing but being happy about simple things should be good.


The “storm” added a bit of snow and got a little breezy!

December 4, 2019

Had a one, two punch on the “storm” here at Casa de Chaos.  I might have had a total of 2 inches of snow on the ground and had to push that little bit of snow off the sidewalk.  I added some ice melt to the front side walks as it looked like it might get a little slick from the water freezing.  I guess I win again since it warmed up to the 40’s F. and all the snow melted away.

About the worst thing from the storm is the tarps over the one of wood piles got lifted and exposed some of the fire wood to rain/snow.  I went out and got the big tarp adjusted to cover all the wood.  FYI don’t use a rake handle to bonk all the leaves off a tarp unless you are sure all of the water has been drained off first!  While getting splashed with just above freezing dirty leaf water is invigorating.  I would not recommend it.

While freezing some of the Thanksgiving food items I noticed I need to clean out my chest freezer of old items.  I’m going to toss anything over a year old.  Yes I have a lot of stuff in the freezer that is over a year old!  When I started prepping I thought I’d be helping out neighbors, family but due to people moving away and some hard feelings because of Mom’s divorce. The food preparations have been downgraded rather significantly from up to 15+ people down to less than 5, maybe… Life is messy and you have to be flexible to make stuff work.  A great thing now that it is cold I can clean out all of my freezers and organize them to work for me.  Rather than just trying to cover any disaster that “might” happen to an extended family that won’t even talk to me.  It is sad, but it is how life is right now.  There is always hope that things could change.  Though I’m not optimistic.

I got a start on cleaning up the vines and rose bush tendrils on my chain link fence.  I have Xmas light nets to put on the fence to make the front yard a little more festive!  I don’t want to drill holes into my siding and the clips I have bought don’t work with my siding.  No worries,  just add lighting working at ground level out side and indoors around the windows.  Christmas is not just a “kid” holiday.  It is also for us adults to celebrate that light that was brought into the world.  What is great is the new LED lights make it cheap (electrically) to add your own little sparkle to the night.

Embrace this season of giving!  perhaps you are adding a few lights around your home.  Many people travel to see Xmas light shows.  You don’t have to go big but make an effort to get into the holiday spirit.  GIVE! Make the effort and enjoy your work even if no one else enjoys it.  Life is simple, that does not mean it is easy.