Adding in new clothing items…. and I repaired a bird feeder.

February 14, 2019

I’m a firm believer in prepping/storing clothes especially underwear, socks and basic work clothing.  One Item I seldom read about storing is foot wear.  Many people talk about buying, care of good work/cold weather boots and I’m not knocking that as good foot gear makes doing out door jobs safer and more comfortable.  But what about people like me that wear sneakers most of the time or prefer a pair sturdy sandals in summer. I’m am biased about garden working foot wear as I hate Uggs or any sort of enclosed clog-like shoe.  If you like them great but (My) feet get all sweaty feeling and the clog slips around… So let me say I won’t be covering any clogs.

I have needed to replace my sneakers for awhile and I’ve been wanting to get a little higher quality shoe rather than the $25-$35 dollar special of the week.  Well today I had great luck as Fred Meyer had a 50% sale on marked down $70.00 sneakers I picked up for about $32.00 per pair.  Now I have big foot for a women so I can usually get the men’s small sneaker or the women’s large sneaker on sale as those are the leftovers.  Are Men’s feet shrinking in the USA?  I used to get a 7 size men’s shoe and now I need a 8 1/2.  I’m in my 50’s so I think my feet have stopped growing and I have not outgrown any of my old boots and shoes. I got a nice pair of light weight Asics running shoes and New Balance sort of cross training/walking shoes for about $65.00 total for both pairs.  The trick of wearing sneakers or any shoe you wear regularly is to trade off wear of the shoe daily.  That way the two pairs of shoes will last as long as if you bought 3 pairs of shoes in succession.  For example: If one pair of sneakers lasts you 3 months.  If you buy 2 pair of sneakers and wear them on alternating days those two pair of sneakers will last 9 months.  It’s the same thing for Boots but the timeline is usually a bit longer.

Sandals:  I’m not a big fan of flip-flops or light weight sandals.  I have a pair of Columbia “River Sandal”s that are in great shape after 5 years of limited wear.  I really like the thick Vibram sole and the velcro tabs for securing the sandal.  My feet don’t get as sweaty compared to clogs and it super easy to spray off the dirt gathered when gardening.

That is the footwear I use.  Yes,  I also have boots and slippers but what I’m saying is many people do most of their prepping in sneakers and don’t always need specialized foot wear. They do need to have a good fitting pair of sneakers and know how to make them last and what sort of sneaker to store for the future.

Buying/storing footwear:

  1. When you find comfortable and sturdy  footwear buy at least 2-3 pairs of what fits you and what you are doing.
  2. If you like that foot wear buy more pairs to have in your storage.
  3. Always buy the best foot wear you can afford!  An ill fitting shoe or boot can give you blisters and even affect your foot bones after a long time.
  4. Take off your shoes and walk around barefoot or in slippers when at home.  Try on shoes late in the day to see how your foot fit in the shoe
  5. Care for your footwear, leather needs oil, waterproofing and find a local guy/cobbler that can replace a heel or sole. Twenty or thirty dollars is cheap to refurbish a pair of $200.00+ boots.

I have to say that Army combat boots are one of the greatest work boots ever.  The Gore tex winter boot sucks if you have to work at doing anything.  Don’t get me wrong the Gore tex boot is great.  If you are sitting for hours in the cold.  I stayed warmer by using my galoshes over my sneakers when I had to work. When I bought the first generation Army Gortex boot.  I would often patrol, help dig a foxhole and then sit and when I sat those boots felt like an Ice block enclosing my feet.  I’m not knocking Goretex as a product.  It just is not the solution for every environment.

Don’t preppers have access to gloves? I have seen many preppers on youtube get sliced and diced by just not having a pair of good leather gloves. I’m reminded of a old story that a man says his scars means he lived life dangerously and his wife says his scars means he led his life stupidly.

Get good gloves of leather gloves.  Hell I’ve bonk my hand with my hatchet cutting kindling and it is no big deal.  If I had not used leather gloves, I’d have a deep flesh cut to deal with if not worse.  Hell I don’t even go into Homedepot  of Lowes without at least a Jersey gloves to handle the wood. You ain’t tough dealing with splinters, you are an unprepared idiot.   Also good to know Scotch tape is great at removing small wood splinters.   Just an FYI!

End of rant.

Gosh I did not cover the bird feeder repair. I used a couple of larger tongue depressors to support the repair.  I got a little bit better at using the glue gun.  It was not a big deal as I glued a couple of tongue depressors to support  the roof of the bird feeder and it worked.  I’m glad I’m getting better using the glue gun and not a complete spaz job I did at first. The roof did end up with a bit of a flare rather compared to the barn  outline. If this repair lasts the roof line on the feeder should protect the feed/seed much better than the original design.

Advertisements

What to do and figuring out Priorities of work

February 8, 2019

I have a bit more cleanup to do around my garden beds and one of the cherry trees I want to take out to make room for the greenhouse.  This is a smaller tree will create a lot more open space for limbs/tree falling.  I may try limbing the tree first and then falling it with Mom’s help.  Mom would be available to help guild the tree via rope and call for help if it is needed.  The other trees will need a PRO to come in fall or clean up the trees to make them healthy.  If I can fall the small cherry tree I’ll have a clear area for my greenhouse.  If I can’t fall the tree myself,  at least I will clear an area for the Tree cutting pro’s could drop the tree.

I want  another 2×4 inch board around my raised beds so I’ll have a total of 10 inches of space to add soil for growing plants.  I need to add a drip irrigation system and use Fabric cover over the raised beds and the greenhouse to extend my growing season.  Now, I know I can grow plants.  My next step is extend the growing season and get better at preserving my harvest. My grape vine are a total mess but we have been trimming them back for a couple of years and the bad over grown section isn’t as daunting to clean up.  Perhaps a  couple of more weeks of filling my garbage cans with the excess grape vines should take care of the worst of the overgrown vine issue. I’m not sure I can wait for a warm day, but give Mom a garbage can to fill and some clippers and she is brutal on cleaning out those Grape vines.

Speaking of Mom, she got another small box of kindling.  You don’t get free paper to burn for starting wood fires easily and having easy to start wood fires in winter is darn important to us.  I love the Paraffin/ wood chip fire starters I can make in egg crates.  The ability to start a wood fire quickly is not a thing to be taken for granted.  Cutting kindling before wood burning season is something I endorse fully.  Last year I split wood but I did not make kindling.  This year I made kindling not only for myself but for Mom and it has made using a wood stove for heating a lot easier for me.

So far this winter I have used about 2 cords of wood for all my heat and it has been a relatively warm/ mild winter. I want to add another 4 cords of wood this spring even though I’ll have wood leftover this year.  It never hurts to have wood seasoning in your woodpile.  Wood to burn doesn’t spoil quickly so having it dry/season won’t hurt the wood. If I have a place to store wood for heat?… Why wouldn’t I store up as much wood as I can afford to buy?

Inflation is happening though the government is deny/cooking the numbers to make it appear low. Coffee cans have shrunk from 3 pounds/48 oz to 24-30 oz. for about the same $6.00 price tags.  Tissue paper is terrible, what was a cheap quality TP  3 years ago is now a high cost TP. But the Government says you can still by a can of coffee for about $6.00 so there is no inflation .  Despite the fact the can of coffee is 1/3 to 1/2 smaller in volume.  You can see the shrink in a 100 ways in the grocery stores.  A gallon jug of bleach is 121 oz rather than 128 oz.  Ice cream Quarts are not a quart of ice cream. It is 1/3 less oz. of ice cream. A package of meat is no longer a pound but 12-14 oz.  package.  It goes on and on, but according to government statistics inflation is low.  We know it is not low as we buy like real people and not government economists.

It is what is, right now.  I always figured on a loss of 30% of buying power via inflation or cut backs via the government.  So I’m not surprised by the loss of buying power.  It will get worse as of right now it is annoying but expected. Things like tissue paper, coffee and paper towels will cost more and you will get less product.  Gasoline is sort of low cost so get those gas cans topped off and filled with Stabil.  Lumber is a bit cheaper so stock up on 2x4s.  I don’t know what else to say other than life in the USA will cost more and you have to save money wherever you can.

I’m not complaining but when one thing gets more expensive sometimes another thing drops in cost.  You just have to find those cost savings.  It is not easy but it is doable.

 

 

 

 


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.

 


Xmas lights removed and I fix my porch light.

January 6, 2019

Taking down the Christmas lights was easy as almost all lights were at ground level or only required a step stool to put in place.  I fell in love with the LED light nets for decorating my chain link fence.  Who would have thought there was a simple and relatively cheap way to make a chain link fence look festive.  I will be adding more of the light nets to my Christmas decoration for XMAS 2019!

I moved my mail box onto the left side of the porch railings.  Now Smokey the cat has much easier access to getting in the front porch. Smokey is getting a little older and jumping five feet is getting a bit more difficult so adding a platform so she only has to jump about 2.5 feet should be much easier for her this year.  Smokey also has a small cut on one of her front paws between her poly-dactyl toes. I guess she got it caught while roaming outside.  I’m bathing the foot in Band-aid Anti-Bacterial, antiseptic, anesthetic  wash and watching how it is healing.  I don’t think stitches are doable in that small area,  so I’ll try and keep the cat box super clean, keep her from jumping around and give her paw, some time to heal the next few days.  Smokey was a little displeased about getting squirted with the Band-aid liquid but after a minute or so she was putting more weight on the injured paw.

My front porch light is fixed and all it took was a new bulb.  My front porch light has been wonky in the past and I was a bit afraid I would have to rewire it to fix the flashing affect it had developed.  It was just the LED bulb base was  becoming separated from the bulb so the contacts were iffy.  I added a new bulb and made sure I got the cover on tight so no rain or snow could get to the light bulb.  The wiring still looked brand new so that won’t need to be replaced.

Some great news Mom will give me one of her old windows to start my cold frame experiment on one of my raised beds.  That will save me some money and we can trade wood for the window as Mom likes using the mill ends for starting a fire.  It will be interesting to see how much difference adding a bit of glass to a raised bed will raise the soil temp. in the nominal winter months, spring and how it holds heat in the late fall.

It is getting harder to trust the food supply in the USA.  I also think many of the food borne illnesses are happening because many people don’t know how to wash veggies and fruits or understand cross-contamination and basic food safety.  Many High schools eliminated Home Economics and Shop classes back in the late 80’s early 90’s to focus on English and Math core studies and then the PTBs dumb down that Math and English classes to make a quota of graduates.

I’d tell every kid today is learn skills you can use today or in the next week. Yes, work for no wages if you find a successful  person that can teach that skill.  Are you getting paid to learn in college?  I’m learning about what I can and can not do. I can’t slam dunk a basketball but I’m darn good at making kindling and fire starters.  I can’t tell you your priorities in life but staying warm is darn important to me.

How do you start?  Well you just start and you fail, learn and go on with the same cycle.  Failure is apart of learning.  You learn what you can do and what you can’t do.  Hell, I never thought I could replace a leaky toilet or replace some “dodgy’ electrical outlets.  I don’t mind paying the pro’s when I know I don’t know enough.

Last but not least don’t buy Cottenelle tissue.  It is at best adequate but every time I load the paper roller it sheds paper dust.  It is a low quality product at any price. Don’t buy it ever.  Even generics are more honest at a the same price point.


A Blustery Day, puttering around to recover stamina

December 17, 2018

Yep, I over did it on the 13th getting the Xmas lights up and mowing up the leaves on the front lawn.  It did not help that SW Idaho had a wind storm of 30 MPH+ wind come through on Friday.  I know some of you live in places that sort of wind is considered  “breezy” but around my place it really seemed to wear me out.  Funny it wasn’t that cold but the wind would chill you down and seemed to cut right through me. All I had to do on the blustery day is make a “wood run” with my garden wagon to top off the porch woodpile.

Friday it was very calm with almost no wind to speak of and warm (40 degrees F.) so I could remove just a bit of ice,  clean out all the bird baths and add fresh water.  It seems the little birds enjoy having the fresh water in the bird baths almost as much as the bird feeders.  Fresh, unfrozen water in winter is probably more rare than finding food in winter. I have plenty of bushes and trees for the birds to find safe places from predators along with a good food supply.  I’m not saying a cat or a hawk could not take a small bird but the predator would have to work at it in spite of the provided food and water supply.  My dogs think chasing off any cats their duty.

Mom told me once the birds found a consistent feed source the birds would let all all of their bird friends know and when you add in a bird bath of fresh unfrozen water.  You will get a flock of the little birds to hang around.  I have a dove that stops by for a snack and drink of water again, though I doubt I’ll see different types of birds until this place becomes a known food spot during migrations or a safe place for the birds that don’t migrate.  Perhaps in the Spring I can add a few bird houses to give a migration stop off point.  Sort of an B&B for birds.

I’m trying to do the homemade dog food mix on the weekend.  I know many people avoid mixing up dog food as doggies gut get used to a type of food but I think I need to introduce more homemade dog food and give the dogs a few choices on what to eat.   One thing I have noticed is a higher protein, fat and veggie and lower grain mixture gets eaten quickly compared to a higher carb mix.  The veggies I add (broccoli, peas &carrots, corn) don’t seem to affect the dogs as far as eating the food.

Onto the wood stove update and kindling.  It looks like my little kindling box of wood will last about 7-10 days using the “egg crate” fire starter.  My kindling box is a small wood lat wood crate you can buy at most craft stores. My crate is much smaller than the wood crate Wranglestar uses for 2 weeks of kindling.  The wood stove is basically my only source of heat I use in late fall, winter and early spring.  I don’t have a lot of long burning hardwoods this year, so I depend on the the new windows and  insulation in my house to hold heat and keep everything warm and above freezing.  This is working great.  I have not only kept up with my fire starting needs but have kept Mom supplied at her house while she was recovering from a fall/injury.  One thing that is new for me is letting the wood stove go out during the day, once the house is warm.  Having the fire starters and kindling makes starting a fire so fast and easy I don’t mind starting a fire a couple times a day.

 


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.


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.