Got the mister fans in time for the heat wave

July 8, 2017

I’m tweaking the set up for the chicken’s mist and fan set up as there has been some puddling in the chicken pen. This weekend I want to try some different setups with the fans and mist stands to find the “sweet spot”.  If you get misting for cooling I would recommend getting a larger size mist nozzle if you are using a misting stands rather than a set up that relies on gravity.  My new Articcove has a 1.3 gallon flow and works much better for cooling compared to the older model with less than 1 gallon flow.

The exterminators will be in on Monday!  We are getting both the mouse and bug barrier package deal.  The company I selected are about mid-range in cost but does not require a contract.  I hate yearly contracts and this company had great ratings plus  good customer service over the phone.  Ironically with all the clean up done in the basement we drove the mice up stairs. Hopefully the exterminators will finish off the mice and bugs and Mom and I will have a vermin free home going into winter.

I bought the HDX shelving from Home depot on sale. The shelving units were is to put together and works great in the basement in places with limited height.  I liked the shelves so much I bought 3 more for the basement after the first purchase.  So that should tell you some thing about the product.  I have one more section to clean and work on making my preps easy to access, make rotation more user friendly and more rodent proof.  While it does not seem I’ll use as much lumber for new shelving, I think I will have more space that will be easy to use and much easier to clean.  Mom did an outstanding job cleaning up the kitchen and laid down some DE to take out the bugs.  Another treatment that is not fast but darn effective if you maintain it.

Last but not least I’m getting some siding estimates for the house.  While I hate the idea of taking out a loan,  the house’s siding is awful and must be replaced. I’m looking at the a system that adds insulation, insect and vermin resistant, so this is not a cheap job. Vinyl siding is cheap but it is also as flammable as wood so I’m looking at a cement board that is at least fire resistant if not fire proof.  We will see the quotes this week.  Thank goodness I have a small 1200 sq. foot house and not a McMansion.  Another thing, while I like a good looking home I want a home that is good for retaining heating and cooling.  Vinyl siding sucks on  insulation, wood siding is great but as a disabled person “painting a home” every few years  is just not happening. So we will see about the costs and how my wish list will get scaled back to affordability.

In summation: the pets/critters and us humans are staying cool.  The exterminators are coming on Monday and I’m getting bids for the siding that will not only add insulation value and fire resistance,  but stop the mice/insects chewing their way into my home.  Hopefully we will get back to maintenance rather than dealing with “Emergency” management.


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.


The kitchen and laundry room is “Minty Fresh”.

December 14, 2015

Mice and spiders have been a major problem this fall. While the sticky traps are catching some of the mice, I know there is a much larger mouse population I’m not catching in traps.  Mom and I have smushed a couple of big spiders that seem intent on crossing into the house. With all the rain the DE barrier washes away and won’t stop insects entering the house.  I’m trying out peppermint essential oil in a couple of forms to get rid of the spiders and push the mice into traps. I hope the peppermint will encourage all vermin to stay out side of my house.

The two methods I am trying out:

  1. Cotton balls soak with several drops of peppermint oil.  The smell is pungent and the cotton balls can be placed in areas that are not easy spots to place traps.  My hope is the cotton balls will drive the vermin into traps or out in the open were the can be caught and or smushed.
  2. Peppermint spray: 1 cup of water, 20 drops of peppermint oil and a squeeze of dish soap to make it mix and that is easy to spray on walls/baseboards.

I don’t know if this will work but I have used crushed mint leaves to keep some insects out of the house.  The smell of peppermint is a bit over powering for a few minutes then it seems to dissipate quickly for my sniffer. I do not want to be cruel to mice or bugs. I would prefer to find methods that repel them rather than kill them. I won’t use poisons as Smokey the cat and Tucker the peke are mousers of a sort and I don’t want them poisoned if they catch a mouse.

Update on the rest of the critters: Diana the peke is finally responding to the steroid treatment. It would help if she would take it easy and heal up  before trying to keep up with the younger dogs. But Diana let me give her a bit brushing and did not growl when I picked her up. Early days yet on her healing but I think she is on the mend.  Sadie the schnauzer still is timid though we are trying to get her to interact with the pack and not be so sensitive.  I think Sadie was a bit neglected in a social way and never given any positive reinforcement nor was she encouraged to be part of a pack.  Dogs are social animals and it “breaks my heart” to see this little dog be so fearful.  Tucker the peke seems to have taken an interest in Sadie and Tucker loves life, so he should be a good doggie guide to bring Sadie out of her shell.

Speaking of Tucker the peke, he is finally getting the idea of chasing the cat is a bad thing.  It is a slow process but I hope we can break Tucker from chasing the cat and yet keep his love of chasing away the squirrels that attack my garden.  Tucker and Brodie were supposed to be Mom’s dogs but both have attached to me.

 


More Fall work done and a couple of new toys to try out.

November 20, 2015

While I don’t care much for strong winds, the black walnut trees and lilac bush leaves finally dropped to the ground today.  I got a bit frustrated by all the leaves and sticks the pekes always drag into the house via their “fluffy butts” so I got out the leaf blower and the leaf rake to try and stop all the tracking in of leaves.  My apple tree leaves are still green but by raking up the last of the walnut and lilac leaves we won’t have the pekes, or ourselves dragging in so many leaves and twigs coated with a sticky sap that clings to everything!  I don’t consider myself some sort of “neatnik” but I’m tired of vacuuming up leaves inside the house and combing or cutting leaves and twigs out of my peke’s fur.

I loaded up the wood rick today. This damp, windy weather has myself and Mom feeling a bit “chilled” and we used up a bit more wood out of the front porch rick this week than I had anticipated.  I filled the little garden cart with wood this last weekend so it was easy to top off the porch wood pile.  With this CIDP when and how much I can do physical labor can be a bit iffy at times. I was wiped out after stacking up the last cord of wood and filling up the wood buckets, but after a couple of days of rest I could get some chores done around the house.

Everyone has limits! Those limits might consist of time, physical energy or money but they are very real to each individual. I have lots of time because I’m disabled and SSD and VA provide my income. I’m not getting rich but I live a good life and can afford to buy a few gadgets and tools because I’m mostly debt free. I got a good deal on my house and my mortgage payment is lower than  most rent payments for an 3 bd. 1 3/4 bath home.

New Toy first impressions: Mom is really having a bad reaction to my cigarette smoke since we are starting to close off all windows, leaks and drafts. I will not stop smoking in my house, even for my Mom. You can call me names, trust me it won’t be the first time.  Now I am taking steps to “mitigate” my cigarette smoke. Holmes smoke grabber ashtray $10.44 on Amazon. Upside of the ashtray is does grab smoke and run it through a small filter. Mom says my smoking area seems to lack a smoke cloud.  Downside it only grabs the smoke from a cigar or cigarette while it sits in the ashtray.  The ashtray I bought is only battery powered and has no A/C backup or recharging function.

On the Holmes smoke grabber ash tray. Many complain that the ashtray is small. The tray is a bit small but is larger than most bar ashtrays that get dumped by bartenders. The ashtray is about 4 inches  square and about an 3/4inch deep. This ash tray will not hold more 10 cigarette butts or 2-5 cigars before you have to dump the ash tray but that should not be a problem for most people. I don’t get folks complaining about the size of the tray if what they want to get rid of smoke and odors. It is not all that difficult to dump the small ashtray in the trash when full.  My wish would have Holmes/Amazon offer a battery powered smokeless ashtray that is rechargeable via both 12 volts or 110 volts AC.

The little air ionizer for a car runs  on 12 volts and has an electrical 120-240 volt adapter/converter. The specs on this little air cleaner is for only 12 square feet, or about a sedan. I have plugged the little ionizer next to my computer desk and the air feels a bit different, though I’m not sure it is working to eliminate smoke from the room. I bought a Holmes air purifier with optional Ionizer and it seems that the air is getting better/cleaner. Mom says she is starting to feel better,  even my sinuses are finally starting to drain/clear out and the air is less stuffy /feels better and the house smells cleaner.

A great thing about the Holmes HEPA type air purifier as it will accept a replacement of a true HEPA filter. On the Amazon reviews of the Holmes air purifier for $34.99, many  people complained it was loud. I have been running the air purifier on high for several hours and it’s about as loud as your basic 20 inch box fan on medium setting. The low setting on the  air purifier is very quiet, about “white noise” level. For a great bargain I would buy the discontinued Holmes HEPA type air purifier for $34.99 and install a true HEPA filter and not buy the new/ improved air purifier that is a HEPA type and costs  about $10.00 more at Amazon.

I know the “air purifier” is not equal to an over-pressure type air-exchanger but I hope to cut down on air borne type viruses, bacteria along with allergens and smoke in the house.

 

 


Thinking about human waste short term and long term

July 14, 2015

totalsurvivalistblog commented “As to sanitation. That is probably a week(sic) point in our current situation. Still we have enough space to run slit trenches and chamber pots for a really long time. This plan needs some work.”

That got me thinking about the concept of an above ground composting toilet as a solution.  Instead of building an above ground composting toilet/outhouse over sealed bricks or concrete base, couldn’t a person use water tight barrels to dump the chamber pots, 5 gallon buckets and or porta-potty’s that many of us plan on using short term?

My short term sanitation plan now:

  • Five gallon buckets/camp porta-potty to hold daily waste, I have straw, sawdust/wood chips and wood ash to cover waste as the bucket is used.  Note to self, I need to buy a toilet brush for cleaning out/sanitizing the buckets after they are dumped!   Waste is stored in a construction grade trash bag when full and hope the trash guys will haul it away before it becomes a problem.  Hope/trust in the government is not a very good strategy for a prepper.
  • The outdoor above ground composting toilet/outhouse has most of the work done in the chambers and the outhouse portion is based on the building materials of a 3rd world village, but we can buy used 15- 55 gallon barrels or 30 gallon trash cans for $50.00 or less.
  • For example you have a 30 gallon trash barrel placed on concrete. You put a 3-6 inch layer of straw in the bottom of the barrel. Add a screened vent for gasses to the trash can lid, then dump your potty bucket daily into the barrel.  Add the date when the barrel is full and use it for non-edible plant beds(lawn grass, roses or shrubs) after the 9 to 12 months of it breaking down. Switch to a new barrel and repeat the process!

Pros and cons to this idea:

  • I have no real idea how much poo a person will generate daily. Nor how quickly human poo will become a safe fertilizer though 9-24 months seems to be the general answer. Overall most Humanure info seems to say composting at least 12 months is a safe minimum of time to kill all pathogens.
  • While you don’t need to dig for a septic tank or out house you will be handling human waste so there is a bit of danger for disease to you personally.
  • A good thing is you will not contaminate anyone’s ground water. Nor dumping waste down your local storm drain and contaminating  drinking water gathered down stream.
  • This composting idea probably won’t work for most apartment dwellers and if you have a septic tank in a rural area you won’t need this as a sanitation solution. But for homeowners in a city or suburbia tied into a sewer system that stops working in a disaster this concept could offer a workable solution to disposing human waste safely.

I’m sure homesteaders and others that have bought a composting toilet or compost humanure that have much more “real world” knowledge that I have and can troubleshoot my ideas.  Please, troubleshoot me, as all I know is theory and not the practical application of my ideas.  I would ask that you take into consideration that most of us city and suburban preppers are limited by how much land we have to use, zoning laws and how much we can afford to spend. I can’t speak for all, but telling me to move to the country is not helpful! If I could afford to move to the country I would have done it 5 years ago!


Nice to have the plumbing fixed, planning for fall/winter

July 8, 2015

It was so nice to wassh clothes and dishes without running a hose to drain the washer, have all the drains working properly in the kitchen as well as working bathroom faucet.  I have become very appreciative of modern plumbing and all the ways it makes daily life cleaner and requires much less work.   Because I have gone a week without tap water and had to use work a rounds for sinks, toilets and drains. I have gained a lot of respect for basic plumbing that brings in safe water to drink along with getting rid of waste that can cause disease.  I suppose my biggest fear in any disaster or collapse is lack of clean drinking water and sewage treatment.  After the storm Sandy hit NY people crapped in non-working toilets and then in the hallways/common areas because they could not get rid of human waste. Sewage treatment plants backed up and all of the waste flowed into rivers and low ground surrounding the city. Waste going untreated is all to common following most disasters and creates a breeding ground for diseases,  so it is critical that you have your own waste disposal plan and a way to create more safe drinking water in addition to what you have stored.

Speaking for myself, I underestimated the physical energy required to move water using muscle power during my no tap water/ no water heater tests. A great test is do all your basic chores but use only your stored water rather than your tap water for a day.  Are you planning to use a “water bob” in the bathtub for your emergency water supply? Then use only that water for everything that requires water for a day. Washing dishes/ clothes, drinking/cooking, clean up,  watering your garden, pets and plants.  In winter heating water on a wood or gas stove inside is easy, in the summer you will also heat up the house. Having a way to heat water and cook outdoors will keep the house cooler and more comfortable.  Do you have big pots capable of heating 2-5  gallons of water at a time and are you strong enough to move that much water where you need it?  I recommend getting several of the big 5 gallon Igloo drink jugs for your hot water storage.  These jugs are great multi-taskers that can store cold water and keep it cold or hot water and keep it hot. Also these igloo coolers can store ice and food “in a pinch”.  Almost any insulated cooler with a spigot will work for store hot or cold water but I like the 5 gallon/20 quart type as 40 pounds is about my limit on lifting water.

Dealing with waste I’m planning on using my compost pile and burning “trash” via a “burn barrel”. I am buying “compostable” paper plates and cups to help deal with the waste issue.  I have plans for a small septic tank/field and outhouse for a long term “emergency” but they can’t be done now under city code. If the SHTF and it is a long term “emergency  I will implement stage 2 of my sanitation plan.

It is July and for me it is time to start thinking about getting ready for winter. Things like getting the wood stove cleaned and inspected and start saving up cash to pay for fire wood.  I have some scavenged materials on hand that need to be installed to make my wood storage area a bit drier.  This is a great time to start on your Xmas shopping and getting all the fixings you want for your holiday dinners.  I don’t know about you but I have never cared for the “Holiday rush” nor the full- contact shopping that seems to be a thing these days in the USA.  If you are wondering about a gift for a person you might try a a cool idea of telling that person you got them the perfect gift and have them guess what it is. That way you will have a couple of months to get them a gift they really want, rather than what you think they should want.  If they go a bit to expensive you can always shake your head, say I wish I could give you that gift and say you have a budget  of $…for the “perfect gift”.   Budget for Xmas gifts now in July and you will have lots of time to get the gift and the holiday season will be much less stressful.

Just so I can undo all the good I just mentioned about planning ahead, I want to remind you all about also living in the moment!  This is something I have to work on as I am often mentally somewhere 3-6 months in the future and I forget to enjoy life  in the “here and now”.  Planning ahead and setting goals is important but enjoying what you have and being grateful for the everyday things is also important!