House is holding heat great and a stitches update

November 11, 2017

I have been blown away by how well the house holds heat since the windows and siding are complete.  My computer room now gets into the mid-70’s F. and retains the heat even after the wood stove burns out.  Of course it has not turned to cold in the valley since all the work was done but with the old windows heat would just leak out if we did not have plastic on the windows.  Mom and I are using a lot of the mill ends and smaller limbs for small fires and just to keep the firebox going through the day.  The only problem with that sort of fire is I’ll need to buy more of the mill ends for the rest of winter (for kindling) and too use next spring.  I have the materials for another wood rack and one more load of wood ordered for delivery this month.  That last load should fill up the main wood storage area and I’m storing the mill ends in a separate area that is easy access for adding more wood if needed this winter of spring.

I started painting the front door a grey semi-gloss that matches the color of the gables and frame work around the windows.  It is going to take a couple of coats of paint to cover up the old red door.  The worst part is the old door hardware looks kind of terrible against the new paint.  I have been looking at new locks and door levers rather than just the standard knobs.  Eventually I’d like to change all the doors to the lever type handles as they look great and are much easier for me to operate with my CIDP.  One thing I have become aware of since getting disabled is how much easier life can be if you retro fit faucets, door handles and other (ADA approved) hardware.  What is great is most of the hardware has a retro-look that fits with me going back to the original look of a 1910-20’s Craftsman House.

Update on the stitches: Every thing is looking good according to the doc in a box.  In a week I’ll get the stitches removed though it may take up to 6 weeks the cut to fully heal and give me another interesting scar.  The Doc in a box even asked where I got the bandage I was using to cover the cut.  The Walgreen’s brand of 3 inch x 4 inch knee/elbow bandage works great for covering a large cut and is very easy to apply.  I’m not sure if this is correlation or causation but when I started using Curad’s Anti-microbial silver solution  I noticed a significant reduction of pain around the injury site compared to using the little packets of anti- Bacterial cream I got from Doc in a box.  I believe but can not prove that the silver solution gel made a huge difference on how quickly this cut started healing.

Not to much more to add other than I got some tree limbs to cut up, more leaves to clean up and I have to install all of my solar motion lights.

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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.

 

 


Stopped the dogs pissing contest?

June 10, 2017

I got out the carpet cleaner and cleaned the living room rug and used the upholstery attachments to scrub the lower part of the furniture.  I used Clorox brand urine remover for stains and odors to pre-treat the furniture and rug areas that were involved in the “pissing contest” and then used the Bissell pet odor control type carpet shampoo.

Over all I like the Clorox cleaner as it does not try to cover up the pet smells with fragrance.  The Clorox cleaner also seems quite effective eliminating the mouse urine and poo smell in the basement cleanup.  I also like the fact that the Clorox Urine Remover seems to be equally effective on both hard and fabric surfaces. My rugs nor my furniture had any problem with bleaching or the running of colors using this product.  I also rearranged the furniture and that seems to have stopped the primary pissing spot for the dogs despite the fact I need to do another rug and furniture cleaning to get rid of the odors that my human nose can pick up.   I need to follow-up with the rug and furniture cleaning to stop odors but I think I have made a darn good start of the living room being used as the dogs pissing contest arena.

Onto the laundry area cleanup and it seems to have worked out great!  While I have a bit of extra space to move both the washer and dryer, cleaning under those appliances presents a bit of a challenge.  I used the small shop vac to clean up the mouse poo and then the Clorox urine stain remover on the linoleum to clean up the mousy mess.  Last but not least I used a disinfecting spray on the walls.  OMG it worked out great for killing all the bad odors in about 12 hours!  I’m not sure why the lag time happened on getting rid of odors but I’m glad my clean up worked!  I think a disinfecting spray (Lysol or generic equal) is a good addition to your preps.  I laid out a whole bunch of sticky traps in the laundry area to try to eliminate more mice.

While early days I don’t think there is no one solution to a vermin problem be it bugs or mice.  Good storage procedures is probably the best 1st step but you will still have random vermin problems and that’s where reusable traps are huge help dealing with vermin.  A mild sanitizing solution of bleach used on hard surfaces seems to disrupt both insect and mouse trails.  As per Lee Anne’s worry no buckets, bins or barrels have been breached.  I did have one busted water jug but that looks like human clumsiness/error not mice.

Mom cleaned out her closet and it seems the mice did find some nesting areas but I think Mom’s cleaning efforts let the mice know that nesting area is now shut down.  In a way we are shutting down food sources, water sources and nesting sources in the house that will no longer give mice a place to live in the house, chicken coop or the shop.  The mice are welcome to live in the great outdoors.

Tom, I will check out the Tomcat traps.  around here I have only seen the Tomcat plastic traps but I may not have noticed the metal traps.  Mom and I bought several metal traps that sound similar to the traps you describe.  Today I got 4 adult mice in the basement trap set for 24 hours.  I moved a dog food feeding area and some how lots of  dog kibble got transported close to the wall.   That is now cleaned up and we moved the doggie feeding area!  So far the best answer seems to be is eliminate food sources, set out traps and keeps stuff as clean as possible.  I do think Peppermint oil or Balsam sachet might help for preventing a mouse infestation but once you have mice you just have to clean and set out a lot of traps.

It’s not all bad, I have a lot of motivation to build all those storage shelves now!

My 3 sister garden has been over run by grape vines so seems to be a no go in the current area.  Note to self never start a garden close to grape vines.  In a way it is wonderful as the grape vines are putting out healthy growth.  A little less than conducive to my 3 sisters beds.

OMG the Cabbages and lettuce cole crop front beds look wonderful! It has not been all that hot and the arugula bed bolted already.  Well we can harvest seeds at worst.  I need to weed the cabbage beds that  look lovely and are growing great.

Gosh I understand how easy it is to get distracted as everything can become an emergency.  Mostley it is not an emergency!  Though some issues are critical. Cleaning my food storage area is a priority,  it is not an emergency!

Looking at the big picture can make a person freeze or lockup.  It’s simple,  pick a job and complete the job.  It’s simple it is just not easy.

Gosh I have rambled on a bit.  Mom and I going to build a garden tool bucket and blg about it.


New Scissors and getting the dogs ready for summer

June 1, 2017

I’ll admit I never thought about scissors as a tool.  I have to say having a several good sets of scissors has become very critical tool to have on hand around Casa de Chaos.  So today Mom and I bought a couple of sets of Fisker’s everyday /craft scissors via BOGO free sale and gosh they are wonderful to use!  Like a good sharp knife, sharp scissors makes your cutting jobs easier and faster.

I know that Fiskers is a quality mid-range brand and for specific applications they may not be perfect but when I can get them on sale they are great tools.  I bought  Fiskers Kitchen shears a year ago and love how I can cut herbs with them and the blades break apart for easy cleaning.

I’m using an older set of scissors to practice my sharpening skills.  I am using an oil stone and have put a good edge on the first part of the blade but I will need to take the scissors apart in order to get the cutting edge sharpen for the entire length of the blade.  I suppose what I’m trying to say is have good scissors on hand is a tool for my prepping.  Being able to sharpen scissors is a skill I am trying to add to my prepping skill set.

Brushing and cleaning up the dogs for summer.  I’m ashamed to say I did not keep up with the grooming of my dogs this spring when they are shedding like crazy.  Pekes under coat is almost like down and mats like crazy when not combed out and I dropped the ball on brushing the little critters out.  So how do I fix the problem?

  1. Get rid of the big mats of hair.  I’m cutting them out as much as possible (hence new scissors) without hurting the dogs.
  2. Using brushes and combs in short time frames of brushing that get the dogs back in the habit of being brushed regularly.
  3. Cutting the hair between pads and cutting dogs nails.  This is taking a bit more time to rebuild trust but Mom and I have had some some success.  I use a a nail cutter that is not spring loaded and resemble scissors.  Once I cut hair around the paw I simply cut back the extra nail that keeps the paw from resting flat on a solid surface.  This is easier for me compared to finding the quick and trying not to cut into it. If you cut in in to quick Witch Hazel is great for stopping the bleeding.
  4. Using treats to reward good behavior of your pets getting groomed.

I won’t say it is okay to drop the ball in caring for your pets, but I do understand how it can happen.   Start off slow and take care of the of the worst issues first even if the hair cuts look sub-optimal.  Then start a normal grooming schedule slowly so the pups don’t fear but like the attention,  and try and make it as positive as possible for the pet.

Jackson the terrier is very fearful of combs, brushes and scissors.  We are going to try using rags to get him use to the motions of grooming.  Thank goodness he has a short/wire haired coat so we have a bit of time to work on him.

The portable 8000 BTU AC unit is supposed to arrive on  Friday and the temps are supposed to hit the mid 90’s F. I’m not sure how to “vent” a portable AC unit or how to deal with the moisture with the unit being inside.  Gosh we are all going to learn new stuff!  Even adding another 8000 BTU portable AC unit the wattage/ electrical use is still lower than my “Central air” power usage.  But we shall see if the portable AC is worth the cost in electricity.

Last, but not least I think I can afford another Ryobi mister fan for the yard.  In a dry climate these misters are wonderful for both humans and critters.  I want to add some mulch and Mom has some offering sedum starts for the alley garden.  With the people that are ignoring weed growth in the garden I need more plants and more mulch to stop the spread of bad weeds.


Making extra pain relief and dry skin cream for winter.

December 16, 2015

Between the weather changes, and my body’s evidence of how slow I was to learn the laws of gravity and inertia. I am adding more jars of the pain relief cream to my medical pantry. After I shot the staple into my palm I found my middle finger was very sore and swollen. Using the pain cream helped relieve the pain but I was very surprised that is also reduced the swelling in the finger.  This not the first time I have had a foreign object puncture my skin but it is the first time I used the pain relief cream and noticed how it reduced swelling and seem to reduce the ordinary heat and redness you get from any sort of deep wound.  Plus it took less than two days for all of the swelling to go down and never had much redness or hot spot with this puncture wound once I used the pain relief salve on it.  In less than a week  the puncture wound from the staple is pain free and I have had no problems with any sort of infection.

The dry skin salve is similar to the pain salve but I use Rice bran oil (naturally high in vitamin E) rather than the Coconut oil. I avoid using most citrus essential oils as my Mom and sister have a sensitivity to vitamin C/ascorbic acid.  I think that using the natural beeswax adds a protective layer to the skin which helps the oil penetrate as well as keep the skin from drying out due to wind. Most commercial products seem to use petroleum based wax (paraffin) since it is relatively cheap, but I prefer the feel of beeswax on my skin. Another advantage of beeswax is I can buy it locally, rather than depend on store bought paraffin wax.

To make the salve rather than use just a carrier oil adding the 1-1.5 oz. of beeswax for every 8 oz. of oil is a good ratio that has worked well with Coconut, Grape seed and Rice Bran oils.  Beeswax can be flammable so it is best to melt it slowly.  To melt/blend all the oils and beeswax I use a small 1.5 qt. crock pot on low, but to make my comfrey salve I use one of the “little dipper” crock pots to keep from any cross contamination of medical salves. Crock pots are cheap at thrift stores and yard sales so I buy different sizes/colored crock pots for my different salves.

A jar of salve last me a couple of months and I use it daily on my multiple pain areas. I like using 1/2 pint wide mouth jars to hold the salves. If you use a regular pint jar it can be difficult to get to the salve in the bottom of the jar.  I don’t  seal the jars but wait for the salve to cool and solidify before I add the lid. What is great is the jars are reusable and you can leave a little salve in the jar you can just refill it!

If you can find a bee keeper willing to sell beeswax and you are willing to clean it, you will save a lot of money on your salves and you might even bring in a few dollars selling “clean” beeswax at the local farmer’s market. Cleaning beeswax is easy and all you need to do is setup the double boiler, keep the heat just high enough to melt the wax and keep an eye on it so the double boiler does not run out of water and the heat stays low enough not to ignite the wax.  Keeping an eye on the wax melting is sort of like keeping an eye on your pressure canner. You want to keep a close eye on it to start so the temp. is correct but after that you just need to check it every 3-5 minutes to make sure everything is staying in the safe zone for heat.  I use a single burner hot plate I set on low with a double boiler but a crock/slow cooker on low would probably work just as well.

I don’t use any chemicals to “bleach” or clean the wax other than the strainers. I pour the wax into silicone pans for candy size molds but small metal bread loaf pans work well if you want larger chunks of wax.  After the cleaning the beeswax will be a dull amber color and have very mild, sort of sweet floral aroma.  I get my beeswax for about $6.00-$8.00 per pound if I buy 10-20 pounds.  I often see natural beeswax go for $4.00-$8.00 per oz. so you can see how much money you can save if you are willing to clean the wax yourself.

Quite a few people want both a side project  of making some medicines via essential oils or herbs. Some are getting into beekeeping or need a way to use all that natural beeswax. It is amazing how people used beeswax before petroleum products became cheaply available.  Real beeswax candles last longer than most commercially produce candles and the are simple to make at home.  Do a search on the internet on the uses of beeswax and I bet you will be stunned that natural beeswax is a great multi-tasker.

 


Cold weather insulation and an update on the air purifiers.

December 2, 2015

Mom wants to start insulating the chicken house.While Mom was looking at some of the foam insulating panel at first. We are going to try out some reflective sort of insulation to start with on the chicken shed.  We want a bit of insulation, but what we are more interested in is eliminating any drafts. We bought a few rolls of a “radiant barrier” type product via Home depot.  The product is basically 2 layers of bubble wrap encased in a reflective cover and has about an R-6 rating on exposed walls.  We don’t expect the shed to become warm but we hope that the insulation will reflect out heat in summer and retain heat inside the shed in winter.  All of the reviews seem to think this insulated roll is great as a moisture barrier as well as a good insulator for summer and winter.  This is a small test project for on insulation, we can always add more insulation once  the basic barrier is up on the walls.

I added a new doggie door and caulked around the seams indoors and out. There is just a bit of cool air coming through if it is breezy but over all things are much better. I just bought a 4×6 throw rug with a rubberized type backing  on the back porch entry way, and I can’t believe how much difference that rug made cutting down the cold from the entry area.  I always thought it was the doggie door that caused the cold (draft) feeling, but it seems the tile floor laid almost directly on concrete acts like a huge stone radiating out the cold in winter. I don’t think the previous owners of the house spent a lot of money on insulation and making sure all those air gaps are filled or using caulk to finish up the add- on to the house.  Mom and I got the plastic up on windows but the dollar store plastic window tape sucks. I bought a roll of the Frost King tape $2.68 at Home Depot and we are going to re tape the windows. Now the dollar store window plastic seems to work very well and holds up to the heat of the hair dryer when the tape holds the plastic in place. My back up plan is to buy extras of the Frost King tape and the dollar store plastic for next year.  I really like the idea of  building interior storm windows, but that will take a bit of time as well as some trial and error, as my carpentry skills are rudimentary at best.

On how the Holmes  air purifiers and smokeless ashtrays are working out.  One of the three air purifiers seems to have a bit of rattle/noise. It is not bad I just move one of the quiet purifiers to Mom’s room and set the “noisy” air purifier in the computer room.  I don’t think even the  noisy air purifier is all that loud.  While I’m a smoker I have to say I think even my sniffer is coming back and my sinuses are starting to clear up.  A few small room air purifiers can make such a big difference in such a short time in my home that has a smoker.  Those little air purifiers seem to make a great difference  in “quality of life” for those that suffer from smoke, smog, asthma or allergies. I want to add a true HEPA filter around February or March of next year to see how well the air purifiers handle spring time allergens.

Firewood indoors: I have noticed the new firewood (fir) leaks sap when stacked close to the fireplace. The apple and elm did not leak out sap so I was not prepared for this bit about the new wood.  I bought a small log bin $19.95  from True Value that holds the logs and all sap and pitch will leak on the “bin” rather than stove’s  expensive stone pad.  I ran all of the out door grills through an oven cleaning cycle and it got a bit smokier than I anticipated.  Great news the air purifiers and the vent did a good job clearing out the smoke in the house , plus the oven and grills are all clean.

 


I added an air purifier to Mom’s room today for air improvement.

November 22, 2015

Still early days for the “cleaning the air” test but the air seem to be to be improving for the dogs and us humans in the house. Some of the improvements I have noticed so far…

  • Mom does not seem to be snoring as much late at night and her sense of smell seems to be coming back. Mom has not had a good sniffer for years so she does not blame my smoking.  She was quite surprised that she started smelling the chlorine that is used to treat Nampa city water.  Mom stated today’s nap was the best nap she’s had in several weeks after adding the purifier to her room.
  • My sinuses seem to be draining.  While my nose is a leaky at times I find my sniffer is getting better especially about the smells of ashtrays and eliminating that odor.
  • The pekes seem to be breathing easier. Brodie the peke would do a sort of cough/hacking sort of like a cat with a hair ball.  A couple of the pekes would have something like an asthma attack though that is not a good description of the heavy snorting/breathing the pekes went through trying to catch a breath.  It was almost like a cross of irritation and over- excitement. Great news, we have not seen any sort of breathing problems or attacks since we have added the air purifiers.

Good news, Sadie the miniature schnauzer is doing much better about going potty outside though she’s still working on using the doggie door.  Sadie adores my Mom and sleeps in her room or on the couch in front of the fireplace. I think Sadie has been very good for Mom as Tucker and Brodie tend to hang out with me and Diana the peke. Sadie is becoming Mom’s most devoted companion.  I have never been married though I was in a long-term relationship and I know I was very hurt when things did not work out.  I can imagine a person could feel unloved or even unlovable. Most pets will love unconditionally and that can be a great ego boost as well as a reason that a person goes on making a life.  Having an animal that adores you and or depends on you can make a big difference in your mental attitude. I think with Mom’s divorce thing going over a year that having a devoted lil dog will will be very good for Mom and Sadie will do well with Mom taking care of her.

I got the front porch filled with wood. The wood rick is topped off and I filled 3 of the 18 gallon bucket with mill-ends. I hope Monday I can run the mower over the front yard and pick up/mulch the leaves that are dropping since it turned cold. I’ll need to move Smokey the cat out of the basement and do a little patrol while the weather is good. The weather man says don’t worry about the high clouds and the storm will hit the day before Thanksgiving.  Well, I worry as the weatherman’s timing has been a bit off this year.

So far adding the air purifiers has made life a lot better.  While we (preppers/survivalist) types tend to  plan for the worst case scenario. I see no reason why should not make our day to day living the best it can be at all times including today, or in a disaster.