Yard cleanup, fire starters and kindling OH MY

August 26, 2019

I’m getting leaves on the ground along with apples and walnuts.  Keeping the apples and walnuts cleaned up is critical for me as I always find those gifts and either a twist my ankle or end up with Apple goo on my shoes.  Neither outcome is what I consider positive.  The B&D air sweeper/ blower worked well blowing the leaf materiel into a pile, without blowing away the mulch. After that quick blow of the air sweeper it was easy to rake up the heavier stuff and toss it in the garbage.   Speaking of tools Mom and I are trading my B&D 20 volt weed eater for her 18 volt Ryobi. Mom doesn’t feel comfortable using the Ryobi,  based on the tools larger size and over all bulk. I’ll let Mom tryout my smaller/lighter B&D and see if that tool is more comfortable for her.  I think Mom is going to fall in love with the smaller size of the B&D weed eater.

On to making more fire starters. I had a little bit of leftover wax from last year so I bought four pounds of wax for this years batch of fire starters. I used about 1.5-2 pounds to make 120 individual fire starters.  I use 1 fire starter a day in my wood stove. Theoretically 120 fire starters should last about 4 months or from about mid October to February of next year.  Of course things seldom work out as perfectly as the theory says it should and I’m making the fire starters for mom and myself this year.  Mom is bringing some of her extra egg cartons to make more fire starters so that the both of us have at least a couple of months worth on hand this heating season.  Honestly I see my fire starters as a thing to get a fire started fast to warm up the house as quick as possible, rather than a “It would be nice to have a fire tonight” sort of thing.  For that sort of fire I’ll be using newspaper to start that type of fire.

The kindling box or should I say that “Freaking Huge Kindling” box?  I did about 30 minutes of chopping and I managed to fill the bottom of the box about one layer thick of kindling.  That was a little discouraging but I’m glad I gave my self a time limit as I have not chopped wood for almost 2 months and my muscles are out of practice.  I had a little muscle tremor when I was finished with that job.  While my muscles were challenged  by cutting kindling. The Dremel tool and stone sharpening of the axe and hatchet worked great.  If you buy a cheap axe/hatchet like I did the Dremel tools does a great job of putting a better edge on a tool without heating up the steel that might change it’s “temper”.  Yes, I still needed to use the stone to clean up the edge but the Dremel made getting that basic “cutting edge” faster and easier for me.  I have a lopper that crushes rather than cuts. I think the Dremel might put a good edge on that tool.  I want to learn how to maintain those yard cutting tools and make them better at the job.  I don’t remember who said it but there is a quote about someone given a job to cut down a large tree in 6 hours and the first 4 hours he spent sharpening the axe/saw.


Sorry about not posting….

August 20, 2019

I seem to have pulled a muscle in my back and gosh it hurt!  If your back is hurt everything you do becomes a challenge. Heck, just finding a comfortable potion to sleep is a challenge.  I spent some time in bed laying on the heating pad, putting on a lot of the essential oil pain cream and using the TENS device “electric muscle stimulation” to help clean out the “waste” that causes muscle ache as well as keeping the muscle moving despite me resting in bed.  Movement is critical to healing the back/muscles as not moving makes your body weaker and it hurts a lot.

I did not get a lot done for about 48 hours.  I vacuumed my carpet, washed dishes and mowed my lawn. There were a lot of other projects that did not get done because my pain level was to high for me to do the work.  One of the things I learned about becoming disabled is:  Some times you can’t do the work because your body can’t do the work.  This is not about using an injury or handicap to excuse you not working.  I know the difference between being lazy and being hurt.

Anyhoo, I got some jobs done by working up to each job and taking rest breaks to see how the injury reacted.  There were some major twinges but I did get a couple of easy jobs done.  It is okay to take time to heal and test out that healing in stages.  Trying to do much to quickly often bites me in the butt, so I have to remember remember slow and steady wins the race.  Learning what does not work for you is just as important as learning what works for you.  Failure is just a way to learn about what does not work.   I’m still in recovery mode with the pulled/sprained muscle but the pain cream is doing great but it’s tough to rub cream on your back yourself.

Mom got the rope and PVC tube secured under the tarp to help prevent the tarp from being lifted by the wind.   One thing I have learned about working with chicken wire is I hate it!  Yes, I know it is cheap, but that is the only positive attribute to using chicken wire fence rolls.   Chicken wire shred protective tarps and leave anyone working with it battered and bloody.

I have more shopping to finish up and overall I’m feeling a lot better. I have a few yard jobs waiting like cutting back the grape vines and weeds.  I need to start filling up my kindling wood box.  Filling the box is a challenge but I would not be surprised that filling that box full would give me 6-8 weeks worth of kindling this winter. I’m buying paraffin wax for the “fire starters” and last but not least looking for a Chimney sweep to clean the wood stove by the middle of September.  My goal is to have all of the jobs for heating with wood this winter will be complete by the end of September.

 


Working with tarps, helping with Mom’s wood pile. Clean up and some fall prep

August 13, 2019

Yesterday I got out to Mom’s place to replace the tarp over the chicken run. This one of those jobs that seems almost impossible to by yourself but is easy with two people.  Because of Mom’s location she gets a lot of wind blowing daily and often at a brisk 20-30 mph so if a tarp last a year in that type of breeze it is a good tarp.  We have noticed that the cheap “blue tarps” shred in a matter of months.  We suspect that the blue tarps are not UV protected.  We both have used the low cost brown and green tarps with UV protection and those tarps handle high winds/ beating solar rays.  Getting 9-12 months of use out of those type tarps very is doable.  Trying a new way of keeping the tarp on top of the chicken run in high winds.  I ran some rope through some PVC pipe and will place that pipe in the fold of the tarp and see if that keeps the wind from getting under the tarp and moving it around on the chicken run.

Mom stopped by today and got the rest of the mill ends, 2 old pallets for the base of her wood pile.  Mom’s wood storage area is a “Work in progress” but she is getting the the stuff needed to get the wood off the ground and the tarps to cover the top of the wood pile.  I was able to give Mom a couple of smaller tarps that I replaced with one larger tarp over my Doug fir wood racks.  I had a large tarp covering the mill end wood storage area that was a little worn around some of the edges, but is in good enough shape to keep rain and snow off the wood pile.

I got my Doug fir wood pile covered by tarps.  The wood pile is in old dog kennel and is a long but narrow space so a 10 x 12 foot tarp covers most of the wood.  A few of smaller tarps will cover the wood racks so the wood can dry/season but is also protected from rain and snow.  The carport  has over head cover and the shop and RV provide some protection from the weather.  One of the trickiest things about heating with firewood is exposing  fire wood to the weather/wind so it can dry/season but also protecting it from absorbing moisture while it is drying.  I’m hoping that I won’t use a lot of wood to heat this winter and I can build up a multi-year wood pile of dry and seasoned wood.

Lessons I have learned:

  1. I hate chicken wire!  I understand it works and is cheap but if I want a good fencing that lasts and is easy to work with I’d go with some sort of hardware cloth for retaining small critters of a larger panel square for larger critters.
  2. Even a cheap Dremal tool can sharpen tools and it is less intimidating than a grinder.  A Dremel is not a replacement for a grinder it is just a tool for stuff.
  3. Always try to repair things right the first time.  If you think the job is beyond you call in a pro.  I can replace a toilet.  I can’t replace a plumbing valve that is frozen that uses copper/ plastic/steel pipes that have galvanic corrosion.  I know enough to know I don’t know enough for that sort of repair.
  4. I’m learning a little bit about some electrical work.  I hate getting Zapped by electricity especially if that zap could stop my heart.  If I cut power all of my outlets installed seem to work without  electrical arcs.

I’ve rambled on a bit but replacing an electric plug really isn’t a big deal unless it is your first time and it works.  You need to smart and research how a repair job is done properly.  There is a “Fear Factor” of doing new stuff.  Unless you do new stuff you will not grow as a person or add new skills.  I was terrified of using a chainsaw. Now I respect the power of the chainsaw, I don’t fear using a chainsaw.


Cooler weather helps when working out side. Finish a job, start a new job around the house!

August 11, 2019

Having this cold front move through the area has felt so good!  We got some rain and my little Tucker dog no longer has an “Anxiety Attack” from the sound of thunder.  After several 100 degree days that rain and cooler temps this weekend helped my attitude.  I got more of the dropped apples and black walnuts picked up.  I filled up a 33 gallon trash container and the bag was so heavy lifting it was out of the question.  Those nuts and apples are a twisted ankle bomb just waiting to be stepped on.  I have to many other jobs to get done other than saving apples and nuts.  But I have to keep the yard clean so I can walk about safely and not let fruit rot on the ground that attracts vermin.  So into the trash for these tree byproducts.

I attack the grape vines again  to clear the way to chop wood.  I’m always playing catch up with the grape vines.  I have not found a way to make the vines drape artfully around my home.  I’m always doing cleanup or getting the grape vines out of the way for work.  The grape vines take no notice of all my work and keep on growing.  Good news I have cleaned out my wood chopping area so now I can start filling my  wood Kindling box.  I used my Dremel tool to sharpen up my cheap axes and wood cutting tools.  The hatchet is sharp, perhaps a bit too sharp for cutting kindling long term.  I cleaned up the hatchet edge using a stone, using a Dremel tool to start an edge on a tool does work better than a grinder for me.  Actually I think both tools have a place in sharpening tools.

I’m playing with the new washer settings. I have to give 5 stars to Samsung on trouble shooting the washer and Mr Appliance of SW Idaho getting the washer working.  Samsung stood by their warranty despite the washer being a 2 year old model, that I bought new to me.   Mr. Appliance of SW Idaho was great,  Richard was very personable, brought little rugs/carpets to place the tool bags upon.  Mr. Appliance showed up early after calling if it would be okay to show up early for the work.  That tends to be a very rare thing working with repairmen or contractors.  I understand that Good contractors/ repairmen are very busy.  As a customer I’d prefer a date for a non-critical repair and if the repair person gets an opening, a call to fix the issue.  I know it is never that easy as “Emergency” repair request happen all the time.

I spent about $6.00 at a laundromat over 2 weeks waiting for the new washer.  Drying clothes at a Laundromat  cost the quarters.  No big deal!

I cleaned up the wiring  of the light fixture in the Laundry room.  I added a couple of guides made of rubber to isolate the electrical cable.  Along with buying a big plug of rubber to make the light work.  The light is safe,  but I’m not happy as light should have been tied into the electrical of the add on of the house.  I’m trying to repair terrible half ass “solutions” and it always costs more to fix.

I cleaned caulk around the bath tub and the fiber board shredded.  Was that bathroom install to code?  Nope! I will save a couple of months to fix that problem. I’ll have to get green board sheet rock to make a good base for the new tub surround.

 

 


The washer has a little problem but good news Mom is doing good after the day surgery

July 27, 2019

The washer will not pump out water!  I have it level and that was a pain because most of the top of the washer has curves.  One of the plastic adjustment/leveling legs snapped so that made the task a challenge.  I will say that Samsung was very helpful online and via the phone on troubleshooting the washer, getting the machine registered for warranty and contacting a local repair company with a good reputation to service the washer.

I’m a little disappointed that I can’t use the washer this weekend.  I understand with an “Old Model”/ new machine that these issues can happen and it is not necessarily the fault of the machine, manufacturer or the shipper, especially if they all have good reviews.  Hopefully the tech will come and fix/replace the pump and the washer will be good to go.  I did not empty all of the water out of the washer. I left about 1-2 inches of water in the tub so the tech can see what I am dealing with as the problem.  I think I will get the big shop vac ready, just in case I need to remove that last bit of water in order to work on the machine.  The 6 gallon shop vac should be able to empty the washer in 1 or 2 fill ups.

Mom is doing good after last weeks day surgery.  She is mostly out of pain for her back though she says she is being careful not to re-injure that area.

Mom is keeping up with the housework, mowing the lawn with the riding mower and keeping the weeds whacked and under control. Her church is going to do some yard work and Mom is really trying to set up the Ryobi weed wacker work for her as well as the old B&D weed wacker.  This might sound a bit sexist and I don’t mean it that way, but I think the Ryobi tools are set up for a male to use.  That is not a criticism but an observation.

Men are taller on average than women and most of their strength/ Center of Gravity is in the upper body. Women on average are shorter, have less upper  body strength and the Center of Gravity is the hips.  That makes a huge difference between how a man or woman uses a tool or how comfortable it is to use a tool.  Do I expect companies to change how they make yard tools?  Nope, because most yard work is done by men and that is a tool maker’s primary customer.  Some tools will fit women better and we need to let those manufacturers know us women appreciate those tools that we like and work well for women.  Please no more slapping a bit of pink plastic or paint on a  “Womans” tool.  Women tool users is an under served  market plus those tools that cater to smaller body frames and hands, opens up that market to young people in their teens just starting out DIYing.  Most guys go for the most powerful they can handle/ afford.  Most women want a light weight and simple tool that handles simple jobs like hanging curtain rods of building a small shelf.

Speaking only for myself and I am a “Tomboy” I always grab my little 9.6 volt drill first on any job and only get the big drill after the 9.6 volt proves inadequate. Now I’m female and I’m disabled so my strengths are not top notch, but I don’t think that is an issue.  Using a small light weight drill for a small job is smart.  Sorry for the rant as the 3rd wave feminazis just annoy me.  I was the first girl to play flag football in Idaho in 1977/1978.  I think I was the second girl to play in Little league baseball the same year.  I wasn’t striking some blow for feminism I just wanted to play the game.  I was on the team because I was as good the boys, I started because I was better than some boys.  Did I work hard or harder to get on the team?  Of course I did. Males have more muscle mass than females. I lifted weights and could leg press almost 900 pound as a 14-16 girl.  I was also a slow runner and the had the leaping ability of a safe.  I had stamina and was strong but not really talented for sports ball.

A couple things I learned about sports is all the hard work in the world would never get me to slam dunk a basketball. As my physical attributes mean I have no “hops”.  It did not matter, if I could shoot 3 pointers.  It does not matter that I’m disabled doing a job “living” .  I fail/ succeed on my own.

The wood pile is almost finished.  I have another 3 garden wagon loads of poplar to stack.  I have to finish up the “kindling” wood rack and start filling it.  I have been waiting for paraffin wax to go on sale to start making fire starters.  Some Greenies might attack me for using a renewable source for heat and using a petroleum product to create fire starters. Despite the fact I use far less paper to start my fires.

It is simple for the left.  Use a wood stove and you hate the earth and you are a Nazi/racist scum.  For gosh sake an article said White people like having dogs because they miss having slaves.  I would never speak for any other ethnic group but who does not like dogs or cats?  I don’t think love of animals is just a white thing.

 

Sorry long post and I’m all over the place.  I’ll try to clean it up.


Got some yard work done and a prayer request

July 22, 2019

The front yard has been been mowed!  I got a bit lazy as I did not want to pick up all the sticks from the high winds that blew thru last week. Today I got all the sticks picked up mowed and gave the front yard a “good watering” of several hours.  It felt good to get some outdoor work done after helping Mom with her surgery recovery and getting enough shopping done to top off the big freezer.

While I was mowing my neighbor was working on getting a mid size fridge in to his house up the front steps that have at least 6 steps and about 5 feet to the porch front door landing.  The neighbor had a dolly and did most of the heavy lifting but I helped keep the fridge on the dolly and assist with guiding , or adding a little extra ooomph to get the fridge in the house can make that job a bit easier.  The neighbor said he will help out with moving the old washing machine out or getting the new machine in my house. Should be be easier to move my washer as I only have a couple of steps to deal with getting the washer in the house.  Once the new washer is indoors and close to the Laundry area I can “walk” the washer into place.

I got the old washer out of the laundry area and strapped to the big dolly Mom loaned me.  Mom has offered to assist moving the old washer to the alley, but I want to test out how much effort she will need to help move the washer.  Mom was not given any weight restrictions for her recovery and she has kept up cleaning her house and taking care of critters.  I don’t want her to re-injure her back by helping me.  Getting the washer on the dolly, strapped down, I’ll do most of the weight bearing work and Mom will guide and any weight lifting should be minimal.

Onto the prayer request: My Mom’s new church has been hit with several small disasters. From flooding of the church basement to shingle/parts of the roof being torn off in a wind storm.  The pastor was diagnosed with prostate cancer that may recurring and perhaps the cancer has moved to his bones.  The church congregation is older and many are on Social Security and disabled so the can’t physically do much work around the church or donate to get needed work done.  The church needs to an Asphalt parking lot to replace the gravel parking lot they currently have in place.  The new parking lot will help those people that use walkers, wheel chairs and “scooters” get into the church.  I don’t want to add more info as I don’t want to ‘dox” the church.  Your prayers for the pastor and the church would be appreciated.

I use a walker when I’m shopping or going long distances walking(1/4-1/2 mile).  Trust me if you use a walker a gravel parking lot is some thing to be dreaded/ avoided. If you use a wheel chair thick gravel is impossible to navigate without help.  Heck, when I was in a wheel chair I avoided deep pile carpet,  gravel parking lots, forget about it!


Mom got firewood, gutters cleaned.

July 12, 2019

We cheated a little bit with loading Mom’s firewood.  We loaded some of the smaller hardwood stuff and then filled in the rest of the truck with the cut and split poplar I bought in June. I got a bit more wood out of the bargain but, I have to do the work of cutting and splitting that wood.  Mom gets the cut and split firewood that is ready to burn in her wood stove. I figure I have about 4.5-5 cords of cut and split fire wood and about 1.5 cords of mostly hardwood that needs to be cut or split stored for this winter. So giving Mom some easy to burn firewood for her woodpile was an easy choice, that works for both of us.  Mom has been dealing with a back injury for about 9 months and has a day surgery scheduled next week.  So cutting and splitting wood is NOT a job she needs to be doing for a few weeks. I can putter around my wood pile and split the hardwoods and make kindling this summer that will help us both this winter.  I did not expect to hit my 6+ cords of wood goal this summer so if I have to help Mom out I have plenty of wood on hand.

The gutters are clean out though I did not do the work.  It cost $70.00 to have the gutters cleaned and that seemed like a good price in comparison to me going up and down the ladder 140 times cleaning out the goop in the gutters for a couple of days.  I have bought some gutter screens and a debris downspout catcher that I want to install this summer.  If you install gutter don’t rely on chain down spouts if you have a lot of leaf debris or winter snows. Chain downspouts are okay as a decorative element but to move water effectively install good downspouts.  It should be easier/cheaper to add a chain down spout to a gutter system with down spouts rather than adding good down spouts to a chain system.

Summer has finally got hot here in the Treasure Valley.  90-100 degrees F. for the next 5-7days which isn’t that bad for mid- July in High desert. I can handle working a few couple of hours outside as long as I stay in the shade.  I am not ready to work in full sun but there are plenty of jobs to be done in the shady part of the yard or in the A/C cooled house.

One of the jobs I’m starting is painting. I have been watching youtube vids on how to do some basic Sheet rock repairs and taking time to get all of the prep work down prior to painting. I did some very minor/sheet rock repairs using spackle and an expired credit card to spread the spackle.  Wow! using that card made a huge difference in how the repair blended into the existing drywall.  Taking more time to let the repair cure and then sanding is making the repair almost unnoticeable other that the wall needs to be all one color. I have quite a few of my first attempts at repairing drywall jobs that look terrible in comparison. I’ll be sanding those “repairs” back to the Drywall and getting them cleaned up a prepped for paint.

I’m starting with my 3/4 bathroom that needs not only new paint but some new flooring as the linoleum is cracking and has split.  I’d like to install a new sink faucet and shower hardware but that will have to wait as I save money for those projects.  While this job “updating” the small bathroom are cosmetic.  I’m turning what I have learned in theory, into practice on a small project.  I have most of the tools I need to do the project correctly and not just slap a coat of paint and hope no one notices all the mistakes.