I think I got the last two tomatillo plants in canyon county and lessons learned

June 20, 2016

The garden is doing great though we were a bit late starting some of the plants.  Actually I’m a bit amazed by how well the plants are doing via a the mix of sown seeds and some early starter plants. Today the pole beans are starting to sprout up through the ground of the 3 sisters garden experiment. I wish I could have started the plants in May, but I think the garden will be okay.  FYI for those that want to use straw as mulch.  While straw is a great mulch it does not break down quickly and if you use a small electric rototiller the straw binds up in the tines.  Because of that we are going to try out the Scott’s earth grow as a mulch for the garden beds as a weed blocker and for retaining water.  For my soil and the tools I have to work with using a bark mulch is the best solution for me and my garden.  But if straw works for your garden, go for it.  Every garden is special and it takes a few tweaks to make your garden grow.

Next job is eliminating Morning glory plants. While Morning glory is a pretty plant it climbs/spreads and strangles other plants I like around the homestead. Eliminated a weed or bad plant is good but you have to put in a new plant that chokes out the bad weed.  I’m going to try out some Mossy rose/Portulaca for my front yard beds as it is low growing and only a perennial (reseeds it self) for ground cover. If it works great if not it should not be to hard to replace next year.  Plus mossy rose is drought tolerant.

Some good new from the US senate on gun control laws and voting. It seems there was a bit of a backlash and the senators feared the American people might vote them out. I put a little 9mm carbine on layaway and I think I can get it off of layaway next week, rather than waiting on the Senate voting to take rights away from US citizens.

Things are getting “sporty” my friends and you need to be aware and prepared TODAY, just in case things go south.  If you are thinking of burying all your guns you need to dig them up.  Though I don’t have a problem if you bury “extra guns” as backup.

For this summer Home depot has a battery powered Ryobi fan for sale for under $40. 00 with an 18 volt lithium battery. These little Ryobi fans are great for cooling both people and animals.  I like the water misters and pump on the $80. 00 dollar model, but I recommend you get this fan or something similar to move both hot an cool air that is NOT dependent on the electric grid.

 


Weather has been less than optimal but we still got a lot done.

May 22, 2016

We got hail this week but most of the plants seemed to do all right despite the pounding. Most of my plants are somewhat protected in containers, so damage was minimal.  We are sort of behind the power curve on planting the garden but so far that is not a bad thing as the weather has been a bit wonky this year.  So far the plants  seem to be doing well and my focus has been adding in grass, making my pathways and a backyard that works for me and Mom.  Mom and I are doing a lot of basic yard maint. and cleaning up the grape vines has been a challenge this year since I let them get over grown along with the lilacs and a couple of or bushes. We got a lot of of the overgrown stuff cut back but we still have a lot of work to do on cutting back the grape vines.  I’m a little behind on putting the garden and it is rainy so rototilling the soil is just not on until the soil dries a bit. I’m adding a new bed to the front yard for edible flowers and annuls that just add a bit of color. The flower bed will be done in red landscape timbers to sort of fit the “craftsman home” effect.

True Value hardware is having a great sale for most of the things I need. I’m buying up Semi-gloss paint for the house as that makes the walls easy to clean and they have tarps on sale that will finish up protecting the wood pile from rain yet the tarps can be folded up to let the wood pile dry. The wood overhead cover is rotting and boards that support the roof are warping big time.  Two more tarps will cover the firewood and I can start cutting out the the bad roof over the wood pile.  I will be able to afford enough paint to cover most of the house with colors that work with a Craftsman type house.

I just bought a 10 gallon air compressor/oil type from Harbor Freight and a basic tool set up. This air compressor should be a large enough for most basic jobs around the house. I bought a small paint spray gun for paint but until I test it, I’m not sure about trusting it despite the reviews.

Mom always see what has not been done. I see how much we have got done.  Actually Mom gets down on herself for not doing more around the place. I think she is outstanding in her work cleaning up the grape vines and helping me trim up trees and bushes.  I suppose it goes back to her being a recovering Catholic.  It’s guilt imposed via childhood. I see the glass always full, It just might be full of air which is not helpful at times. I think we are doing great! The little “Casa de Chaos” got a new roof, a lot of work on the yard.  Hell we can run my washer without running a garden hose to the shower. We have grass for the dogs and great paths that are a pleasure to walk rather than uneven dirt that could twist an ankle of knee. I think we are doing pretty well over all.


Getting bids, Doggie BOBs and local grocery store bought out.

February 19, 2016

I had to get a lead paint survey done for the roofing loan and the people that did the survey were very helpful suggesting cheap ways to mitigate any lead paint chips so my critters would not ingest lead. Casa de Chaos only has a a couple of potential bad spots and it will not affect the work I want to get done via the city loan. Getting bids and doing the research on good contractors takes a lot more effort than I had anticipated. Thank goodness for the internet and computers making emailing the “scope of work” from the city easy to copy and paste. Plus having client ratings for the electrical, plumbing and roofers I’m authorized to get bids on the jobs makes getting the first bids a bit easier to start.  A $10 grand limit loan seems like a lot of money, but anyone who has contracted construction jobs knows that $10 grand won’t get a lot of work done using contractors.

All you construction pros please don’t take that in a bad way. Most of you are professionals and take a lot of pride in your work. Making/repairing homes is hard work and takes time, energy and knowledge I don’t have. You should be paid well for that, I just have to limit the jobs to that little bit of money I can afford to pay.  One cool thing is I may help the city and a couple of local contractors “hook up” with the city doing this sort of repair jobs.  The gal running the program and the building inspector are looking for good contractors for this program.  Overall I think I got in with a good bunch at the City of Nampa as well as people that want work as well want to do a good-great job. This is a program that needs to work and so far the contractors I have contacted are more than willing to work with the city and give bids in order to get the work done. Hopefully everything will work out to everyone’s advantage. The city will get a list of good contractors, I get a low interest loan to take care of my older house’s structural/safety issues. While 100 years is not a lot of time. I like the idea of fixing up historical areas and using modern materials that reproduce an era.

From the water main fiasco I would recommend you ask to see all work permits from the city and refuse to pay the last bit of money to any contractor until the final inspection is done by the city code inspector.  I have no problem giving a contractor 1/3-1/2 of the money on a contract for materials once they get the permit and then paying the rest on city inspector’s okie dokie.  Sorry, construction guys the bad fly-by-night jerks make that a requirement for me. I can’t afford small claims court and the bad guys/ripoff artists will just set up business under a new name when sued. I have to say after getting job bids for my little project I have gained a lot of respect for general  contractors. Getting bids and lining up workers on a time line is not easy.

I’m building up the Doggie’s BOBs. I’m feeding Pedigree soft canned dog food but I’m adding Pedigree soft/wet food pouches to the doggie BOBs to save weight.  Changing any pet’s diet can cause stomach upset so it is best if you have at least a few days worth of their normal feed and a bit more to mix with the “new normal” feed if you have to bug out.  I have added brushes, combs and nail clippers along with some basic bandages and OTC meds to help keep the pets happy and healthy. Leashes and backup collars so the animals will not run off along with enough small kennels/carry boxes that will give the critters a safe place if I need to bug out. I added  a couple of  metal water bottles, I want to get a small Sawyer water filter just for the critters bug out bag.  I am still testing out a few ideas for water and food dishes. I’m looking for a compromise on weight, storage size and ease of cleaning.

Paul’s a local grocery store was just bought out by Albertson’s and I’m a little peeved. I try hard to support local business but I also know most grocery stores operate on razor thin profit margins.  I can’t really blame people going for the cheapest price when money is tight. But Paul’s was sort of like a poor man’s whole foods for buying local. Some good news, I saw a cashier from Paul’s in Nampa get hired by Albertson’s.  I know there will be some downsizing and consolidation but it is nice to know that Albertson’s is giving some of the workers from Paul’s a job.

Mom and and I must get out in the country and at best it will take the rest of 2016 just to get all the equipment and tools we need just to make the attempt of going country.  This is not our first rodeo, we know making a go in Owhyee county will take a lot of work. We are trying to get all of the tools on hand as cheaply as possible before we move. But with Mom’s divorce dragging out I suspect we will need to hang out here in the city for another 10-12 months.

Don’t worry about us as the Casa de Chaos is getting a new roof and a few electrical and plumbing jobs done.  Oh we may hate we that we are stuck here for a bit.  But I got the new hard side green house and a soft side on hand and ready to set up.  I’ll add a 300-500 gallon water tank next month.  While Mom is a bit frustrated about the divorce going into it’s 15th month.

I am working to get Casa de Chaos fixed up and set up for a perma-culture/food forest and ready for the real estate market.  Will it work? I don’t have a clue. but I know doing nothing, won’t work.  If you are  standing still, you are a target at best or tend to get run over at worse. As a wise person said ” Get busy living or get busy dying. Your choice!

 

 

 

 


Working on loan paperwork, plumbing and a carpet cleaner

January 9, 2016

Things got off to a good start this Friday, first stop was Harbor Freight buying the green house.I was a little surprised that they only had four in stock for the sale. I am glad I got there early as I have missed out on several greenhouses “selling out” before I got to the store.  We now have two walk-in greenhouse though one of the “houses” is one of the cheap plastic over a metal frame type of greenhouse.  The two walk-in greenhouses should give us plenty of space to start plants for the garden this year. This will save us a lot of money compared to buying plant “starts” at the local farm store.

I need to add a four more heavy duty tomato/potato cages for my growing vertical experiment. These cages should also work for any garden out in the alkali/hard pan soil of Owyhee county.  Based on trying to grow stuff on Mom’s first place, it will much easier to start with raised bed gardens and then work the slow process of improving soil naturally.  One of the big reasons I need a pickup and ATV is to haul a lot of compost and mulch around any future homestead. Trying out a few hugel-culture raised beds could be a worthwhile experiment to direct water as well as add more growing spaces.

About the March time frame a 300-500 gallon cistern should be do able. I already have several rain barrels, though my water delivery system needs work.  Now theoretically a 1000-1200 square foot roof should “capture” nearly 3000 gallons of water per year based on average rainfall here in SW Idaho.  The problem is not lack of water, but getting water at the right time and having a way to store it safely until needed. Stagnant pools or ponds are a no-go because of insects breeding and West Nile virus in the area.  The only solution I see is a rain catchment system that can be closed to prevent any insect breeding. Especially since many of the properties I have looked share a well and drilling my own well would break my budget.

That is a start on the food and water problems my homestead will face. By starting small, making effective use of my city lot, I am gaining equipment and skills that will transfer to the new homestead.

I had to fix a leaking bathroom drain. I had installed a “modern” drain and plug, what was needed was old school plumbing.  I still don’t trust the concept of compression fittings, but so far so good. No leaks and I think the old fashion type drain and plug will be much easier to keep clean.

Mom’s Bissel carpet shampooer died but I was able to fix it.  The problem was the water pump stopped working, it seems the belts that move the beater bar also help pump the cleaning solution. Once we cleaned out all of the hair on the pulleys the belts attach the pump started working again.  It seems the hair allowed the belts to slip.  When things break I try and fix them. Since I can’t really break it more, I might as try to fix it. I can always throw it away if I can’t figure out how to fix it.

 


I feel like I am getting caught up on stuff for2015!

January 1, 2016

Don’t get me wrong a prepper’s work is never done, at least for me I see preparing as a way of life. For all of 2015 I felt I was about 2-4 weeks behind schedule all year and most of the year seemed to be an exercise in “Crisis Management”.  I did not anticipate Mom’s divorce or her spending a year living with me. Plus I did not set good goals for 2015. For me having realistic goals set for the year is critical to my mental outlook as well as giving me a feeling of accomplishment. Having Mom around has been great, but I have to say that I did not have a firm grasp on my goals for 2015 so with Mom’s help I did manage to get some other things accomplished.  For other people it might be an adult child moving back home or taking on a grandchild, niece or nephew from parents that need to make sure the child is cared for while they get work/relocate.  I suspect I am not alone getting blind-sided by taking in a relative in today’s economy.

While “Crisis Management” is one thing that is very stressful. Learning to be flexible enough to adapt and go with the flow is a prepping and survival skill you need and practice. I can’t speak for others but I have had a lot of practice on adapting to new situations in 2015.  I don’t mind adjusting my goals when new stuff happens, but I really despise the idea of crisis management.  One of the reasons I think I felt I was always behind in 2015 is that I did not write down goals and check them off when achieved or simply crossed goals when I saw no way to make them happen.  For me, scratching a goal off the list is better than trying to play catch up. Since I did not have a list of goals for 2015 there was nothing to scratch off the “todo” list

I am blessed that Mom and I work and live together very well. I do most of the cooking and Mom does the dishes. I like doing outside work and Mom likes cleaning the house.  There is some overlap on jobs but overall we work well together.  Mom wants to get a place out in the country in Owyhee County. I would like a place out in the country like that,  but have been afraid to try and sell my house and worse actually move all my stuff.  I would not be moving to some third world nation and I generally only shop at the local “mega-marts” twice a month so gas prices should not be a huge problem.  Here in the city I can not get close to any sort of self-sufficiency as I do not have a enough land for critters and large garden.  I’m not sure if I’m physically capable of growing most of my own food in the country, but I know I will never grow enough food on my city lot with all of the zoning restriction.

Nampa Idaho is not a big city, but the whole “Treasure Valley” Corridor from Mountain Home (AFB) to Ontario Oregon is becoming an “Urban Megaplex” along I-84.  Boise Idaho according to the last census has a larger population than Salt Lake City Utah.  While I like the area, I don’t like some of the “big city politics” I am starting to see out of Boise.  Just this fall we had Boise city government bragging about buying (via a bond levy) open spaces and then shut down a local “tent city” because there was not enough money to “police the tent city or provide sanitation”.  I love “greenbelts, parks and bike paths” as well as the next person but if a city is buying up land with taxpayer’s dollars, all they end up doing is drive up housing costs and create more income inequality. The PTBs actually make the urban housing problem worse via zoning regulations and declaring green zones, no development zones. I suppose this works out great for people that have already got their homes, but it really sucks for young people/ families and those folks that live on the fringe.

 


Bottling lard

December 19, 2015

We are down to the last jar of lard and it is time to add some more jars of lard to the pantry.  I buy the Morrell Snow cap lard in 4 pound buckets when it is on sale.  This lard stores great in the cool dry basement and does not seem to go rancid very quickly. I have stored this fat for two years in the basement and it seems to do as good or better than most fats or oils for the length of storage time.  From what I have researched about storing lard it is the little bit of skin and meat left in home rendered lard that contributes to the fat turning rancid.  I can’t say this is true for me since I use a commercial product that is filtered. I would be very careful using this method if you render lard at home.  I suppose it comes down to how quickly you use lard and how clear you can get it cleaning off the “cracklins”.

The first step is starting with clean jars and lids.  I like the 1/2 pint wide mouth jars as they are easy to dip a paper towel or fork to add a bit of fat to a skillet or to season a cast iron pan. I preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. and place the clean jars in a pan and then set them into the oven until all of the jars are completely dry.  I slowly heat up a pan full of lard on the stove top and the canning lids are warmed up but not boiled. A 12 pack of the 1/2 pint jars will hold exactly 4 pounds of melted lard.

Once the lard is liquid, and canning jars are dry I get them out of the oven and fill them up, wipe any excess oil off the jar and set on the lids.  After some time most of the lids will seal and make a sort of popping sound.  Please note,  this is not a government approved method of storing lard or butter but it has worked well for me.  You do this process at your own risk!  Any jars that don’t “pop/seal” I use those jars first!

I use the same process if I want to bottle butter but I add a small marble to the jar  and shake it while the jar cools so the butter does not separate as much.  You could skim the milk fat solids off the melted butter and make clarified butter or ghee. With the fat solids removed, the butter should have a much longer storage life.  I have read that ghee/clarified butter stores much better in temps above 75 degrees F. and can last 5-7 years in storage. I have not tested the storage time for clarified butter but I have tested the bottle butter at 18-24 months and it was good to eat.

I like this method for storage because if you screw up the fats will go rancid and your sniffer will tell you if you have a bad product. I also think that the FDA is full of crap about how natural oils and fats are bad for a person, yet highly refined and chemical infused vegetable fats are great, simply because they are liquid at room temperature. Just look at the ingredient list on a package of margarine and vegetable/canola oils. If you have stored some of those oils and don’t want to use them in food prep, just add them to your oils for things like squeaky hinges, bicycle chains, rust preventive for garden tools and other jobs that need a light weight oil in the shop/garage or around the house.

 


Finished up insulating the chicken shed.

December 11, 2015

I noticed some very significant drafts while installing the radiant insulating barrier.  One draft was along the bottom wall and close to the laying boxes and the other drafts were high, along where the roof/walls meet. It seems that the shed was water proof but not wind proof.  The shed seems a lot less damp feeling and drafty since we installed the radiant barrier.  My hope is the birds will be more comfortable and will lay more eggs as they are no longer fighting drafts and the shed is a snug place for the birds.  We left the high vent exposed as well as the chicken door open during daylight hours so the shed can breathe and not build up moisture.  It has been warm with lots of rain but next week it will get cold and we will have a good test on how well the radiant barrier works on keeping the chicken house warm this winter. Yes, we are that anal-retentive enough to put a thermometer and test our theories, even if we are talking about a chicken shed.

Lessons learned: It hurts a lot when you shoot a 5/16ths staple into the palm of your hand.  I encouraged bleeding , washed with soap & water for a minute and then rinsed the hand in antiseptic. I did not bandage the puncture wounds  but placed a medic type glove on so I could work and the glove would contain most excess bleeding.  I need to get a tetanus shot from the VA.  The pain relief salve did great relieving pain as well as most of the swelling from the staple. Being smart on how to treat small wounds should be a big deal for most preppers and survivalist types.  I was a bit surprised that after stapling in the middle of my palm, my middle finger from the 1st to 2nd knuckle got swollen and very sore, though not the palm.  I must have caught a nerve or tendon with the staple.  I’m fine now and finger is working good enough to cut up 5 buckets of mill ends and the last of the panels for the chicken house.

Having a good working staple gun makes installing any roll or bat insulation very quick.  Mom and I worked about 7-8 hours over 2 days on installing the radiant insulation and putting up underlayment  board.  Insulating a shed over a weekend should be doable for most people. Total cost around $200.00 we have left over radiant barrier and two new staple guns purchased, that can be used for other project.

I have learned a lot about adding insulation/ foam and caulk by just doing these jobs. The chicken house is the first time I did insulating and adding panels from start to finish.   The chickens haven’t complained about the the “house” walls having a bit of a rough finish, but I have learned the value of using molding and caulk to give a nice clean finish. I can’t say we are close to the professional type contractors but overall I think we are doing a good on most simple jobs.

Albertson’s is having a great sale on snacks. 16 oz. Planters peanuts $1.49.  I know that peanut butter is one of the prepper shelf stable proteins.  I don’t care for the taste commercial peanut butter. I love salted peanuts as a quick snack or to add flavor to meals and deserts.  This a great time to add snack cracker, popcorn, chocolate, hard candies and nuts to your stock pile. I know I really missed having those snacks when I lived off my pantry foods.  I like to store snacks in metal popcorn tins with just a dusting of DE in the bottom to keep the snacks fresh.

I think for December all we have left is putting up/replacing the tape and plastic on the house windows. I want to add a few Xmas lights to the house to feel a bit festive.

Oh my gosh!  We found a house for Mom!  Just under a .25 of an acre on the edge of Nampa and shelves that would make any prepper drool. It has a city hook up for water and sewer, plus a  working well and septic tank.  It would need a wood stove but otherwise it is a prepper’s dream home.  Darn it, Mom has another divorce court date  in March of next year and she can’t do anything until the Divorce is settled. The house is $104 grand and she must have at least 20% down, to have equity and not pay mortgage insurance.  I would love for Mom to have this home and I can’t help make it happen!  Just a bit frustrated, I have gained so much by having Mom around. While at times things seem a touch difficult, mostly it is a good thing for me.  I think Mom deserves a home of her own and I will admit I’m biased.  I want Mom to have her own place, not because I want to kick her out, but because I want her happy in a home that she can do her own thing that makes her happy.  It is not easy for Mom being in one bedroom for “her” stuff and sharing other parts of my house that we can fit in. Please excuse the whine as we are fortunate in life. Just needed to work it out of my system.