Very strange weather in SW Idaho this year.

January 27, 2019

I will admit, I was wrong on the SW Idaho winter weather.  I expected a dry and very cold winter and we have Spring like temps in January.  In the first week of Feb. we will have daytime highs in the 50 degree F. range according to the weather forecasts. I don’t mind as the warm ‘winter” has helped me on the fire wood usage, as well as stock both myself and Mom with kindling and fire starters.  Ironically I’m using more fire starters and kindling for fires 2 times a day but I’m using less wood overall. I think I’ve used just a bit over a cord of wood so far this winter.  That is very good, as I have been sharing some of my wood with Mom to help her build her wood pile.

I really want to have at least 2+ years worth of seasoned wood on hand and with the warm winter that should be doable this year. I suspect that many people bought wood in fall 2018 won’t buy more wood in 2019 because the winter was so mild.  That is great for me as I’ll start stacking more wood in April to get a start my 2 years worth goal and buy early. While others think there won’t be another cold/snowy winter. I got both of my kindling boxes filled plus an18 gallon bucket full of kindling today.  If the winter weather stays mild I should be good too go through March!

I’m not stopping work on getting the kindling cut or making fire starters. But I need to focus more on getting everything ready for spring planting and getting the Greenhouse installed while we have this warm weather for at least the next 10 days. I’m looking at buying a lot of lumber, foundation stuff and leveling the soil for the Green house.  I have to cut down some smaller dead trees and clean up/ trim the healthy trees.  While I doubt I can grow enough food to be fully independent. I hope to grow enough fresh veggies not to be fully dependent on the grocery stores and 3 day supply cycle.

I have some irises in a protected corner of my front yard and there is about 2-3 inches of new growth in freaking January!  The greenhouse getting built is a priority to take advantage of this mild winter. I got some cleanup done on the backyard and garden beds.  I need Mom’s input on some of her plants/pots in my garden area.  I have a plan on how I will do the “cutting down a tree” work but I want a spotter before I try to limb a tree and cut it down.  Even if it is someone to call 911 if I screw up and get bonked on the head.

Update on the drainage rock so far there has been no flooding into the shop.  We have not had a lot of snow but we have had rain and so far the shop floor is staying dry.  Even the wood I stored in the Carport area has stayed dry.  So I hope that little water drainage problem is mostly fixed. The little bird feeders have a huge success, especially the bird baths.  While I have not attracted many of the rare or colorful birds. The sparrows and doves are fun to watch feeding and bathing.

Don’t get complacent or lazy.  I suppose I did this last year, as I did not keep my focus on all forms of prepping and let some things slide a little bit.  Sure, I had reasons why I slacked off but those reasons won’t matter if a disaster hits.  A great thing about spending so many years prepping is I have the basics in food, water, tools etc. I just need to top off a few basics and build on what I already have on hand.

I’m one of those people that has been almost 10 years and I started a bit before the 2008 melt down and even I’m still preparing today. Of course I’m worried I’m not prepared if things go sideways.  All you can do is the best you can do and hopefully not make many bad mistakes.

 

Advertisements

A New Year to get stuff done

December 29, 2018

It may sound a little crazy but I get a huge boost in December when I see the days start getting long even if it is only a few minutes per day.  Oh it can still be dark with clouds having day light last till 5:30 pm compared to 5:00 pm gets me think that Spring is coming and the daylight will last longer each day.

For today’s fire wood work I went back to cutting the Doug Fir for kindling rather than the mill ends.  I was a little surprised how easy it was to split the Doug fir compared to the mill ends even with the additional step of using the regular sized axe to split the logs into smaller chunks for the hatchet.  As of now I have both of my boxes full of kindling, so I should have about 3-4 weeks worth of worth stored on the front porch.  With the winter weather staying mild, I can start filling up the big 18 gallon buckets with kindling.

I seem to be getting a little better at staying ahead for this year’s wood heating but I’d really like to spend next year getting all the fire starters, kindling and fire wood I need for the winter season completed around July or August.  I did a little better in 2018 buying and stacking some of the firewood starting in April/May but I did not follow up getting the kindling cut or making the fire starters.  In 2019 I will do a better job  preparing now that I know what I  need for the winter heating season.

I have to recommend getting a garden cart/wagon for anyone that gardens or moves thing like firewood around your property.  Sure you can carry arm loads of  fire wood and make many trips daily or you could load up the wagon and make only a couple of trips filling the porch wood rack once a week.  I prefer using the wagon to carrying armloads of fire wood.  I can fill the wagon, take a little break, then unload the wagon.  I do that a couple of times and my porch wood rack is full for about 4-5 days.  Plus wagons can also move garden stuff in spring and summer.  I prefer a wagon to a wheel barrow because I don’t have to lift to move the cart!

Time to start thinking about your spring and summer garden plans. I have to finish building my garden beds, add better fencing to keep one of my dogs from digging in the garden beds. I need to take out a couple of dead cherry trees and start preparing the foundation for a new greenhouse. Plus I’m not a big fan of cherries. I prefer apples, peaches, plums or apricots for fruit trees

Perhaps you have trees that need some work or need to be removed for safety.  Start saving up cash because having pro’s  do the work costs some money.  I’m big into DIY but sometimes it is best to pay the money  for pros because they do the work and they take the risk.  What I can do is minimize any risk to the pro’s or my self if I decide to take on a job.  I hope once all the trees are cleaned up an healthy I can use my basic tools to keep the trees and plants healthy.

For New Year’s dinner I’m going simple.  The local grocery store had some nice steaks and lobster tails on sale and I can grill them in under 15 minutes.  A salad, corn on the cob from fall and homemade bread and you have a great meal.  One thing nice about cooking steak and lobster is the cooking time is minimal, even if it sort of expensive to purchase.  New Year’s only happens once a year so it won’t break the budget.

I am moving into storing twenty dollar bills for “Oh Darn!” money if the power or the internet goes out.  Locally I’ve seem folks unable to pay for grocery shopping because Century Link (ISP/Phone provider) went off line. I had cash and paid easily without depending on my “smart phone” that I don’t own.  For cash on hand I’d recommend $20.00 or smaller bills.  If your savings gets a bit bulky convert some of the cash into silver or gold.  Just a FYI about digital money and smart phones.  They can be convenient but when the ISP goes down or a power outage happens cash is King.

 

 


Merry Christmas I hope you are having a great Holiday Season!

December 25, 2018

My Christmas was a huge success though it was small with just Mom and myself for the Christmas eve dinner.  It was a simple meal compared to what I do for Thanks giving.

I cooked up a small Prime Rib (5.5 pounds) on the rotisserie. I seasoned the Prime rib with salt, pepper, garlic combo spice and then added Worcestershire sauce as sort of a light marinade over night.  The Prime Rib ended up being one of the best I have cooked.  The veggies, broccoli and cauliflower  I roasted (25 minutes at 350 degrees F.)in the Toaster oven with a little butter and Salad Supreme spice. For potatoes I went simple with pan fried hash browns rather than a baked/ mashed potatoes and gravy.  Last but not least was a homemade loaf of the artisan bread.  Mom brought a couple of veggie/meat trays for snacking and for dessert some pumpkin pie  and banana bread.

While I like to cook and bake, having a sort of potluck/buffet makes for a relaxed holiday meal for everyone including the primary cook!   Of course Mom and I are sort of old school, so we munched and talked in the kitchen while everything cooked. Mom had a couple of glasses of the wine I picked up in the mini-bottle packs that worked out great.  A regular sized bottle would have been to much wine and would have gone to waste since I’m not much of a wine drinker.  I’m going to pick up a few more of those little wine 4 packs of different types of wine to use in my cooking recipes.  The bottles are the perfect size for recipes without having to open a regular size bottle of wine and having half a bottle or more go to waste.

Speaking of cooking, Mom got me an awesome gift!  It is a new reprint of the 1950’s version of the Betty Crocker’s cookbook in binder form. I believe this is one of the best beginner’s cookbook a person can buy.  Some of the later versions include Meal planning, shopping, canning and other additional information.  Two of the best features of this cookbook is that the binder folds flat so the recipe page you are working with won’t slam shut on a page, like with many recipe books and because it is a binder you can add more recipes to this book.  I like using the internet to find new recipes and with this Binder I can print a copy of a recipe and just add it to the binder as a hard copy I can use in the kitchen.  Better Homes and Garden also has a good beginners cook book in binder form and the 1970’s era book binder rings match the Betty Crocker binder rings position.   To get these cook books cheap, for $1.00-$3.00 look at second hand stores, yard and bazaar sales. These books will teach you the basics of preparing food from scratch but also give you the information on how to upgrade your cooking level once you know the basics and built up your confidence.

Now for the gifts I gave Mom….  Yes, I bought her a 1.25 pound hatchet for splitting kindling.  I have to split kindling for myself and I like giving Mom some of that for many reasons but most of all it’s about paying her a little back for all the help she has given me.  The hatchet is for her so she can cut some kindling if I’m down physically and can’t cut enough kindling for the both of us. Mom does have some local people that have offered to help her all they need is for tools to be available to do the job.  I also gave Mom a couple of gift cards to the local farm store she shops at regularly.  So she can buy gloves or feed or even a dog or cat toy for her pets without spending any cash out of limited budget.

Overall it was a small but very redneck Christmas and I really enjoyed it. It is not often I can get my Mom a gift she needs, wants and enjoys. Oh I also got her a miniature rose plant for her yard this Spring.

I’m a hearing a lot more Merry Christmas greetings this year but the Xmas lighting on my block seems to be minimal at best.  I think I did the most overall for stringing lights and I’m hampered because of the vinyl siding.  Well if we ever have a Block competition for xmas lighting next year I have a good start on the competition.

Over all on the weather for my area it has been relatively warm this winter and not very wet.  This seems to align with a mild El Nino and the Farmers Almanac.  Now following the weather I experienced 30 + years ago we should have a “cold snap” after the 1st of the year but I don’t think we will see below 0 temps for long or a lot of snow in the valley. Buying a snow blower and stocking up a 100 pound + extra salt and sand has been the best investment I have ever made for a mild winter.  I think the real kicker was getting the Dragon propane torch to melt the ice and snow.  It always seems when I prepare for some disaster it does not happen for a few years. I don’t mind as it is cheap insurance and if the disaster hits I’m prepared.

 


The doing a bunch of little jobs is working out great for my physical recovery.

November 17, 2018

I was a little surprised that the small 11.4 turkey was mostly thawed in 2 days in my fridge.  Now that turkey is in the brine and will get a full 5 days of soaking before it gets on the BBQ.  I’m going to try using the apple juice as the steam/liquid rather than beer to see how it flavors the meat.  Adding liquid basting, or adding little steam to a large chunk of meat helps cook the meat all the way though.

I hope I can find another little turkey at the store to freezer for BBQ next summer.  I think many people don’t realize that Turkey makes a great summer BBQ meat if you use a small 12 pound bird and brine the bird for a few days. I love a well cook turkey year round and I think it is a travesty that turkey is only cooked during the late fall.

Gosh yow would think I had no idea how to use a wood stove to heat a home!   In my defense I bought a lot of poor quality box wood for my first wood pile.  Then I got a lot of elm and then it was buy anything that would burn other than terrible trash wood.  Now I have wood that was dry when when I bought it and it has seasoned for at least 6 months and I have to learn how to burn it.  When you are used to burning green or not seasoned wood for a year, having good dry/season wood sort of screws with your wood plan.   Gosh my dry and seasoned wood is burning much more efficiently than I anticipated.

I did cut a little bit of kindling today and I picked out the straight grained chunks of wood.  Not dealing with twisted grains around knots/branches made cutting kindling less of a chore.  I’ll give Wranglestar credit about his kindling video about picking out wood that is straight grain and free of knots that is wood for kindling.

It is not all bad. While the living room with the wood stove is warm the back rooms are holding around 70 degree F. temps which is pleasant.


Got an 11 pound turkey for the BBQ!

November 15, 2018

I’m very excited to buy a small 11.4 pound turkey for $5.62 to BBQ this Thanksgiving.  A 12 pound turkey seems to work the best on my BBQ for cooking. I rotate the turkey every 15-20 minutes and for a 12 pound turkey that is about 4 hours of cook time if you maintain 300-350 degrees F.

I like using a brine of about a pound of dark brown sugar, a pound of pickling salt and Apple juice as the liquid in a 3 gallon food grade bucket in my garage fridge to safely thaw/brine the turkey.  Use a gallon sized ziploc bag filled with the same brine to keep the turkey submerged, if the bag breaks it won’t screw up your brine ratio.  Spices are up to you, but I like adding plenty of pepper corns, red pepper flake and oregano to counter the sweetness of the mesquite charcoal flavor.  Rest your turkey, breast down at least 20-30 minutes after cooking.  This helps to keep the breast meat from drying out.

I know that Frying a turkey is a thing. But it is kind or dangerous and I don’t think people know the advantages of BBQing a turkey. 1. Using the BBQ for turkey frees the oven up to do all those casseroles and baking duties.  2. Men love BBQ and love watching BBQ smoke and meat cooking.  So having a turkey cooking that needs to be attended to every 15-20 minutes makes men very useful and they are out of the kitchen!  It is a win/win, the guys can gossip outdoors and the ladies can gossip in the kitchen.  Another couple of advantages is you will have great meat leftovers (maybe) for some of the best turkey tacos and sandwiches. Plus a roasted carcass of bones to make soup stocks.  If you need to have a large turkey to feed your family/crew I’d recommend buying 2 smaller turkeys in the 12 pound range rather than buying a big 24 pound turkey.  Cooking a turkey for over 8 hours takes a bite out of the relaxation/fun of enjoying the holiday.

I’m not a big fan of canned yams but I’m thinking I may add some sweet potato fries to the menu. The food is traditional just a different way of cooking the sweet taters.  I make a mac and cheese that is so dense that it can only be taken in small bites.  But it is so good!

It is strange that so many mental midgets focus on “cultural appropriation”. When that is the USA melting pot in action. If I take what I like /love in your culture and make it my own.  Is that now a bad thing?   Not going to play that game with the morons like Antifa idiots nor the more “educated elites” . Nope you elites are not that impressive and I’ll keep faith with the people of Idaho and all the others in flyover country.  You know the people that make the food and extract the oil and gas.


Leaves and outdoor clean up

November 14, 2018

This new recovery system is working out better than I originally anticipated.  A huge bonus for me has been getting more stuff cleaned up in the house during my “rest periods” from the outside jobs.  Sometimes it is getting my shopping list and coupons ready to go for the week.  Doing a little dusting or getting the dishes soaking to wash on my next break before going out and doing more physical work outside.

Toady I was a little surprised by how many little jobs I managed to get done today by using the 15 minute mix of outdoor job, rest, indoor job, rest,  routine.  I got the porch wood rack full of a mix of woods. The kitchen got a good wipe down and all the dishes are clean. All the leaves or clear of most of the major path/walkways.

Getting these jobs done today really made me feel productive and I’m setting more little jobs for mowing up leaves in the front yard over the next few days.  My back yard job will be raking up leaves and cutting kindling to break up the hard jobs and easy jobs.  Oh and shopping for the turkey and Thanksgiving meal goodies.  What is great is I have these jobs planned to be worked on for the next 5 days so if it takes a little longer than 15-20 minutes to do a job I can can come back to it another day.

I’m still in the build up stamina mode but in some ways at the end of the day I feel I have been more productive getting all those little jobs done rather than focusing on some of big jobs started but not completed,  or I’m down for several days and all those little jobs pile up again to become big jobs.  I can’t be the only person that loves waking up in the morning to a clean kitchen, the laundry is done or knowing you can have a cup of coffee relax and plan what you want to get done, rather than what you HAVE to get done today.

Anyhoo, Mom dropped off the electric pressure I bought her as it just isn’t some thing she is using to cook right now.  I don’t mind because now I can double up my recipes and even make human food using the insta pots.  Mom also borrowed my Toro leaf mulcher /vacuum for her yard.  The mulcher will help Mom start adding more organic material to her garden area and help keep leaves from being bagged for trash.  I trashing the killer walnut leaves and moving the saver leaves to nulch into the garden beds.  Right now every thing in the gardens is a bit of a mess as I’m still getting the new beds finished up.

There is still a lot on my to do list to get done before spring.  I love my new pole saw and see many uses for it.  I also don’t want to concuss myself playing with the damn tool.  Once the cherry trees are down I’ll have spot for the green house to be built in the spring.  I have a plan I’ll just have to pace myself.


Filling in the garden.

June 8, 2018

I have about 120 days of growing season before the frost date of October 10th, so I’m sowing seed of plants and herbs in the new beds.  This next week I want to add some herbs, onions, chives along with some root veggies in the ‘cole’  crop bed. So far I have added brussel sprout starts, but it looks like some of my celery died. The lettuce looks okay after watering though I may need to adjust the cloth to protect the plants from the afternoon sun.

This year’s garden is not about production, though I want to have fresh veggies. My focus is making an easy to maintain garden for the future.  I will be adding a user friendly sit down ledge around all of the raised bed.  The new fence is not ‘Tucker the peke’ proof as  he is going under the fence.  At least Tucker has not dug up any of the new plants! Heck, I may just surround the garden area with 2 layers of cinder blocks to keep the little dog from digging until I can build a proper fence.

Repairing Mom’s little chicken house: I added a little WD-40 to the bolts that are rusted that need to be removed.  The manufacture of this little chicken house was poor not because materials though they went cheap.  It would have been simple to paint all sides of the wood and seal it against weather and insects.  Why use 2 inch long bolt and wing nut in wood framing is less than an 1/2-3/4  inch thick?

While I  doubt the manufacturer thought about anyone taking a pattern or learning how to repair or learning how to use a spray paint gun.  That is my ‘project’ for this little chicken house.  I will learn how to make the house rigid,  try and repair flaking wood,  fix some bad stuff and give Mom a great little chicken house.  I get to practice on something that is basically considered a throw away project.

The front lawn is weed whacked and 1/2 is mowed. I can finish up the rest this weekend and if things work out I’ll get the alley way weeds cut down and the cheat grass bagged.

Over all a good day of work and I’m not ‘toast’.   If i’m physically up to it  this weekend I’ll add some onions and herbs to the garden beds, finish up cutting the grass and then attack the alley way weeds.  At worst I think I can get at least one of those jobs finished.