email change over and spring cleaning

May 20, 2018

Changing email address is tedious but now I have to get rid of the 22 year old yahoo email address.  Verizon just bought yahoo and they want to give access to AOL and Huffington Post to my emails.  Nope, not going to do that, heck I have a Verizon cell phone plan with a dumb phone that I don’t share my internet/email data.  The move should be seamless as I didn’t use my yahoo address for comment moderation. Nor do I get many direct emails via this blog. Eventually I want to setup my own email server that is not beholden to the internet gatekeepers but that is a project for next winter.

Ugh! The house smells bad and no amount of scented candles can rid the house of the funky aroma.  When Mom was living here her dog Jackson and my dog Tucker seemed to engage in literal “pissing contest”.  I understand that dogs do that sort of thing but it creates a bad smell as well as bad things happening to carpets.  I got out my Hoover carpet shampooer and started cleaning the living room carpet.  Guys the Hoover carpet cleaner is on sale for $88.00 at Home depot and it crushes any Bissel type carpet cleaner for ease of cleaning the machine.  The rotating brush heads are much better scrubbers compared to a single beater bar on the Bissel and much easier to clean and replace.  If you have carpets that will need cleaning get this “cheap” Hoover carpet cleaner as it is simple, it works and so far has lasted 3 years rather than dying after a year of use.

Using a carpet cleaner:  The Hoover recommends doing 2 passes with soapy water and then a rinse/ pass using only hot water on very dirty carpets.  I’d agree, if your carpet feel a bit sticky after running the carpet cleaner 2x over the carpet. A hot water rinse may be needed to pull up any residual carpet detergent.  I was a little surprised as my cleaned carpet area did not feel sticky and dried fast after the cleaning.  If you want to clean carpets get this little Hoover on sale at Home depot for $88.00! You will get a great little carpet cleaner that has last few years (unlike bissel)  for me, cleaned rental carpets beyond our wildest expectations and the cleaner is still going strong.   I can’t tell if I have eliminated the odor long term.  Just getting 1/2 of the living room seems to have cut the funky aroma by a 1/3rd.

Huzzah! I got the font yard mowed before the thunderstorms moved in. I did the weed eating on Saturday so mowing was pretty easy.  The great elm is dying and must be taken down safely, before it falls down in a storm.  This tree is huge and could smash into my neighbor’s home and that would be very bad.  It is so sad as I tried my best to save the elm but it was to far gone.

If I’m not whimpering and whining in bed after all the work done this weekend I’m going to attack the south side garden beds.  LOL

I have major pet peeve and that is all the people say why don’t you buy….. or hire a contractor for….. I’m poor and don’t make much money.  My income is below paying many property taxes but I don’t get food stamps or energy assistance and those sort of things. Growing my own food is great. installing a wood stove has been awesome. I want to add in some more solar power in the future but tax breaks is not what is making solar attractive to me.  Being independent of the grid is what I want long-term.

Personally I think small Solar/wind system are a good idea on the block to keep things semi powered.

 

It’s crazy but many people have decided what I must do to have a garden a shop or RV.  All I have to is die and God will take care of it in his good time.  I won’t tell you how to you, grow your garden.

I’ll see you on Monday as people need an explanation of the simple raised beds.

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Rainy day good excuse for a rest day

May 12, 2018

I thought I stopped in time but I seemed to pulled a muscle along my neck and shoulder.  I took this rainy day off to rest that area and while it is not 100% it does feel 100% better than it did yesterday so it should heal up with a couple of easy days to get it loosened  up.

Speaking for myself I find that doing little things to keep the pulled muscle area moving a little bit with light weight work helps with the healing process. So I have just been doing some puttering around the house rather than any heavy lifting jobs. I finished getting the lawns watered and then a light rain came through to help finish up the job.  I made up a big batch of dog food this time using chicken quarters, green beans and brown rice.

No rain today (Saturday), the pulled  muscle is stiff and twinges occasionally but overall it seems to be healing up quickly.  I started the day with pulling the weeds out of the front rose beds.  With the mulch that covers these beds the weeds are very easy to pull out.  Then a split the rest of the day getting the house vacuumed,  clothes washed and finish building the last garden bed.  Having the shop cleaned up made the bed go together quicker than the first two beds. Putting the supporting 2x4s end pieces of wood first made adding the 10 foot long 2x6s much easier, plus having the work space to clamp the boards together, drilling the screw holes saved much wailing and gnashing of teeth.  I did not add the soil or till the new garden bed as moving the big bags of soil are a bit to much for my shoulder muscle until it gets healed up.

One of the best things for me building these garden boxes is I have learned how to follow simple building plans, use all of my tools and that trial and error is not a bad way to learn. One of the worst aspects I have is doing ALL of the work and not getting inpatient doing all the measuring, fitting and drilling out the screw holes, because I wanted the project done quickly rather than taking the time to make sure everything is done correctly.  Even a stacked concrete brick wall can be strong using re-bar and sand as a filler in the cavities of the block wall. I don’t think I’d use it as a house foundation but for a base for fence I think it would be good enough.

Good fences make good neighbors or unless you protect your property rights no one else will protect them, via precedent or squatters rights.  We need to get up some fencing and post more signs around Mom’s property.  Mom can be as nice or nasty as she chooses but her property lines must be respected.  Even a temporary fence is better than nothing as it proves you are protecting your property.  I fought a long hard legal battle about property rights.  Not good, so it is best nip these thing in the bud.  Even a temp. fence declares your right to your own property.  No one will ever care about your property than you. Do all you can to protect that property!


Home made dog food test

April 7, 2018

I have been doing some research on making home made dog food and it looks very doable plus I should save money compared to buying the caned dog food in the store.  I bought some of the ‘fresh pet’ refrigerated dog food to see if my dogs would like/tolerate dog food not in a can.  This week the dogs have been eating the fresh pet food and the pups seem to like it much better than the old canned dog food.  Only one pup had an upset stomach during the change over to the new food.   So for my first batch of home made dog food I’m going to replicate the basic chicken and brown rice  recipe.  The basic ingredients to start are:

Skinless chicken breast on sale

Brown rice

Low sodium chicken broth

Frozen peas and carrots until the garden starts producing vegetables. Other dog safe veggies in 6-8% total amounts.  Green beans, broccoli, pumpkin, yams/sweet potato and berries.

Mineral supplements: until I get more bone broth made and can add some raw meaty bones to the dog’s diet.

No additional salt though I may add some dog safe herbs in the future for vitamins for the pups as I learn more about making dog food

That is the basic mix for the dog food but I will be adding a beef mix and bones as I find what works for my dogs and I learn more about dogie nutrition.  I have learned that there are a lot things you should not feed a dog.  Anything with garlic, onions or white flour is very bad for dogs.  I’m steering clear of using whole wheat for any kind of doggie food grain/carbs.  Dogs seem to have a gluten intolerance built in their DNA so easier to use other grains.  From what I have research so far on dog safe grains is White or brown rice, steel cut oat meal, whole barley and some of the other gluten free grains like quinoa or a dry feed corn.  All grains must be cooked before feeding it to your dog.  If  you have different data please let me know in the comments as I’m still a newbie at making dog food.

My goal is to feed my dogs  better than just the average canned dog food.  Make up a big batch of dog food and store it in the fridge or freezer and perhaps can the dog food for storage.  While many people say they would feed pets scraps from the table. I would have no problem eating the Dog food I’m making other than adding spices, garlic or onions.

FIY: I stayed away from adding adding salt, pepper or herbs for this recipe but even I found the new mix tasty if a little bland.  Adding a little salt and pepper after the food is done cooking should fix that bland taste.
Taste test: Brodie the big peke,  loves the chicken and rice dog food! Tucker the peke is half the size of Brodie so 1 or 2 small meals a day fills him up.  Tucker finished up the last of the “freshpet” food this morning so he might eat later.

I want to try out a beef & barley recipe, a modified beef stew and using some salmon/white rice recipes this spring.  My plan is by using several types of protein, carb and veggie mixes I will get the pups all the vitamins and minerals they need to be healthy.  Plus I will eliminate all the “fillers” and chemicals I read on the ingredient labels  on ‘wet’ dog food cans.

I may grow a few pumpkins and make a better bed for Sweet potatoes as those are dog safe veggies/carbohydrates for the doggies to eat.

I know many preppers don’t  store dog/cat food as they will feed via scraps, but I never cared for that idea as many table scraps are not good for  my pekes.  With some research I have made good tasting dog food that is darn tasty people food. I used bone-less chicken breasts (on sale) it seems that most home made dog food sites recommend using dark meat chicken and using ‘organ meats’ for the protein part of the recipe.

Overall I’m not sure this is a cheaper way to feed pets but I know the food is safe and I and the dogs like the food.  I know I do not want to eat any type of canned pet food.

So get out your slow cooker/crock pot and start making your own pet food. Make some ‘bone broth’ buy cheap cuts of meat and slow cook the veggies and carbs for you and your pets.

 


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.


Chickens are moved and Kennel chicken run built.

February 19, 2018

Mom has been living in her new house this weekend.  We tore down the kennel that Mom uses for her chicken run and move it out to her new home.  We both knew it would bee a tough job and having an weather change with an ICY wind really made the job suck!  One of the kennel walls has a 4 x 8 foot chunk of OSB that made a bitch to move, but that OSB wall cuts the wind blowing into the little chicken door to the chicken house.  It was about 45 minutes prior to sunset when Mom opened the chicken door to the kennel and the birds had a blast scratching around in the protected ” Chicken Run”.

We still need to add a some top fencing to the kennel to keep out predators but we are looking at using green plastic garden/snow type fencing rather than adding chicken wire.  Mom likes to add a tarp to the top of the kennel to protect the birds from the weather and the plastic fencing won’t tear up the tarp like the metal chicken wire.  I’m still working on adding a light weight wood frame to support the kennel “roof” that will angled so snow will slide off rather than way down the fencing on the top of the kennel.

The weather has shifted, so instead of all the cold weather running down the east side of the Rockies and freezing you all back east it is our turn for cold weather with coming down the western slope of the Rockies.  Looks like Mom was right that FEB. and March being our cold months locally.  Heck you folks back east need some warmer weather and I hope flooding won’t be a problem.  I am doing very good on wood as all my pine seems to be burning well after having a couple of months to season naturally.  I prefer burning fruit wood or even Douglas fir rather than pine but after my mad scramble to find wood to burn last fall I have several full wood racks and even better a good plan to get a mix of fast & hot burning wood.  Plus the Dually pickup to get long burning fruit wood from the local Orchards.

I did have a have some bad news on my Dogs.  Diana the Peke passed away in her sleep after a great 15 years of life.  Tucker the peke got into a fight and pop out an eyeball and the eye could not be saved.  So the vet removed the eye and sewed the lid shut.  Tucker is doing darn good around the place thought he looks a bit like Popeye with his sewed lid.  Another $700.00 for Tucker’s surgery killed my newly created “emergency fund”.  Well it was an Emergency, so I guess it all worked out.  Going to take a few months being tight with funds to start building a new Emergency fund and get the new garden beds installed.  At the very worst I’ll have to use last years garden beds, which is not so bad in the grand scheme of things.

 


Got the mister fans in time for the heat wave

July 8, 2017

I’m tweaking the set up for the chicken’s mist and fan set up as there has been some puddling in the chicken pen. This weekend I want to try some different setups with the fans and mist stands to find the “sweet spot”.  If you get misting for cooling I would recommend getting a larger size mist nozzle if you are using a misting stands rather than a set up that relies on gravity.  My new Articcove has a 1.3 gallon flow and works much better for cooling compared to the older model with less than 1 gallon flow.

The exterminators will be in on Monday!  We are getting both the mouse and bug barrier package deal.  The company I selected are about mid-range in cost but does not require a contract.  I hate yearly contracts and this company had great ratings plus  good customer service over the phone.  Ironically with all the clean up done in the basement we drove the mice up stairs. Hopefully the exterminators will finish off the mice and bugs and Mom and I will have a vermin free home going into winter.

I bought the HDX shelving from Home depot on sale. The shelving units were is to put together and works great in the basement in places with limited height.  I liked the shelves so much I bought 3 more for the basement after the first purchase.  So that should tell you some thing about the product.  I have one more section to clean and work on making my preps easy to access, make rotation more user friendly and more rodent proof.  While it does not seem I’ll use as much lumber for new shelving, I think I will have more space that will be easy to use and much easier to clean.  Mom did an outstanding job cleaning up the kitchen and laid down some DE to take out the bugs.  Another treatment that is not fast but darn effective if you maintain it.

Last but not least I’m getting some siding estimates for the house.  While I hate the idea of taking out a loan,  the house’s siding is awful and must be replaced. I’m looking at the a system that adds insulation, insect and vermin resistant, so this is not a cheap job. Vinyl siding is cheap but it is also as flammable as wood so I’m looking at a cement board that is at least fire resistant if not fire proof.  We will see the quotes this week.  Thank goodness I have a small 1200 sq. foot house and not a McMansion.  Another thing, while I like a good looking home I want a home that is good for retaining heating and cooling.  Vinyl siding sucks on  insulation, wood siding is great but as a disabled person “painting a home” every few years  is just not happening. So we will see about the costs and how my wish list will get scaled back to affordability.

In summation: the pets/critters and us humans are staying cool.  The exterminators are coming on Monday and I’m getting bids for the siding that will not only add insulation value and fire resistance,  but stop the mice/insects chewing their way into my home.  Hopefully we will get back to maintenance rather than dealing with “Emergency” management.


Tools and stuff I using for cleanup. Another cheap solar solution

June 12, 2017

This winter I bought a large 5 gallon shop vac for dealing with the flooding in my shop.  With the addition of some bags and some brush tools the vac works great for getting up the mouse droppings, plus we don’t have to worry about the dust or spreading anything via the shop vac exhaust.  I have a small 1.5 gallon Shop vac that has worked out great cleaning the laundry area and closets where the big shop vac is difficult to maneuver around in tight quarters.  My only complaint about the Shop vacs is the power cords are too short and I have to use an extension cord for almost every job. I don’t think using your regular vacuum to clean up a vermin infestation is a good idea.  Save that house vacuum for your everyday cleaning chores and get a cheap shop vac for around $20.00-$60.00 depending on the size and features.

Cleaning off the existing shelves I have been using a “Shop brush” ($2.00 Harbor Freight) and an oversized dust pan ($1.00) Dollar Tree.  These tools work great for cleaning  shelves that have open areas between the slats.  You can place some newspaper below the shelf and just sweep everything onto the paper or into the oversized dust pan.   I am looking into building some of my shelves with smaller 1×2 or 1×3 and painting all shelves with a semi-gloss paint so they will not absorb odors and will be easy to clean in the future.

Cleaning solutions:  The Clorox urine remover is working out great! I bought a spray bottle to try it out ($5.00 Lowe’s)  but I will be buying the large jug ($13.00 Lowe’s) for my cleaning supply.  What I like most is this cleaner works on all surfaces and has not bleached or discolored my furniture or carpets.  I’m using a mild bleach solution to clean the cement/concrete wall of my basement area. The mice don’t seem to care for bleach solution or it disrupts the scent pathways they establish.   Mom and I are cleaning the buckets with the mild bleach solution and so far we have not found any mouse dropping on those cleaned buckets.  The basement is smelling better overall and in the area we have cleaned still smells clean after 5 days.

Traps:  Tom, I have added one of those Victor Tin cat traps in the basement and using a bit of grain rather than peanut butter as bait. In the last four days we have caught 10 adult mice.  I’m using a lot of sticky traps in the house as Snap traps are difficult for me to set and use.  Heck even the local Dollar store has those sticky traps though it may take laying out the traps in groups of 2 or 3  traps to catch the mice, they do work.  One thing I have learned about sticky traps the more surface area the trap has the better it works for catching mice.   Over all I think the Tomcat metal re-usable traps are a better solution for a prepper.  I think adding sticky traps when you find them on sale are great and should be added to preps.

Last but not least clean up item, construction grade trash bags.  These bags have a heavy mil of 2-6 depending on on what you buy and are great multi-taskers.  This last winter we did not have trash pickup for over 6 weeks.   I do have a bit of an advantage with the wood stove to burn most paper trash.  While I had extra cans on hand for trash I was ready with those super thick bags to hold trash. I live in a small city and if my neighbors don’t contain trash properly the vermin will affect me and not just them.

Okay now the fun shopping stuff for the day.  I bought a small under counter LED light that runs on rechargeable batteries for $20.00 at Home Depot.  What is great,  is the light is recharged via a USB cable and all of my power packs and my fold able 15 watt solar panel has USB connection for power.  This a great way for me to start a solar powered light system for the kitchen via a solar panel/ power pack but still can be recharged via the electric company’s outlets.  No direct wiring is need to install  this little LED lamp. You don’t need a large solar array to take advantage of solar energy.  A small solar panel system that charges a small battery bank can be a great start.   I have a small power pack that that can jump a dead car battery though I have not tested it for charging via my little solar panel.  As soon as the sun comes out in SW Idaho I will test it out.

I forgot I’m adding a bug barrier insecticide as we clean the basement.  I’m not sure how the insecticide is working but I do have a great system of battery powered pump sprayer now. I think it is helping but it is early days of testing.