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.

Advertisements

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.

 


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.


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.