Kitten update, wood stacking and bacon

November 8, 2019

I’m on my way to become a “crazy cat lady”  though I have not bought or invested in a stock pile of boxed wine.  I bought a cat “tree/kitty condo” from Amazon.  I was surprised that by the low cost and what seems to be a great quality cat condo.  I did a lot compare a lot of different cat condos based on price, dimensions and customer ratings and went with the Go Petclub condo for about $48.00.  The cat condo fits well in corner but was stable sitting in the middle of the room without wall support.  The platforms and boxes are 3/8-1/2 inch thick particle board and the support pillars are probably thick cardboard tubes with fairly thick plastic end caps to accept the screws to build the condo. The total height is a little over 4 foot tall.  You get the basic type Ikea sort of pictograph building instructions.  I made a couple of mistakes with using the wrong screw in a couple of spots.  Over all it was a simple 30 minute job to build the cat condo.

The “condo” is covered with a plush “fabric” rather than a thick carpet, but I priced all of the pet/farm stores and to get the about the same size cat condo locally would have cost around $90.00-130.00.  I will admit that some of the more expensive local products used a plush carpet on the platforms rather than a plush fabric.  But none of more expensive condos used quality plywood rather than OSB or particle board for the boxes/platforms or solid wood for the pillars under those platforms. When the fabric gets worn in a few years I can replace the fabric with carpet if I choose or I can just add more plush fabric.  One thing I have to say is all of the posts and the ladder of this cat tower has sisal rope for cat scratching and that will help save my furniture.  Not a big deal as the kittens don’t really scratch up my furniture. Always good to give kittens another safe outlet.

I’m new to using a lot of kitty litter and cleaning a litter box more often as my Smokey cat tended to go poo outside most of the time.  The kittens use the litter box a lot and clumping kitty litter is easy to scoop and clean daily.  Non-clumping kitty litter is hard to scoop daily, smells worse and it seems as equal too or no more dusty compared to clumping kitty litter.  Get a covered kitty litter box and scoop out the clumps at least every 1-2  days and the aroma of having a kitty litter box is very minimal.

I have been trying to gauge my fire wood usage in comparison to previous year’s wood heating and I got nothing!  That is not exactly true as I think I need about 4 cords of soft woods to heat all winter.  Winter in SW Idaho can be all over the place.  Will this winter be like the snowpocolypse of 2016/2017?  or will it be a throwback of 1982/1983 of six weeks of -20 degree F. in late January-February.  I think we will get a cold winter but not a wet winter.  I  think it will be a “deep freeze” of -10 or -20 degrees as the high temp of the day with little snow.  I do think the winter temps night time temps will be cold.  I still suck at banking a fire.

If you like eating pork get stocked up now!  Bacon freezes well and you can use a pressure canner to preserve bacon.  Though my canned bacon has been flavorless.  This is a global porcine black plague. This pork flu spreading through China is like a pork Ebola.  There is no vaccine, no treatment.  Other than the animals must be culled.  That means all animals killed if they discover this disease anywhere!  China is recommending to eat dogs again to get through this pork shortage.   I don’t blame the Chinese people doing what they have to survive. That is socialism!

Kroger/Fred Meyer has 3 pounds of bacon on sale for less than $9.00.   Your choice to buy ahead.

 

 


Plumbing, using the wood stove and cutting kindling update

October 17, 2019

I got the kitchen drain cleaned out last week and I can say it was an unpleasant job. I learned how to use the plumbing snake to pull the clog out of the pipe, rather than trying to push the snake through the clog.  I did not realize that I needed a bit more patience to work the “snake” through the pipe and into the clog.  I’m not sure if  clogs normally come apart in bits and pieces but that is how my clog got cleared.

My wet/dry shop vac did a darn good job sucking most of the water out of the kitchen drain pipe.  I used a sink plug and wrapped a damp dish rag around the vacuum hose at the kitchen drain and sucked about 2.5 gallons of water out of the drain even though my vent pipe placement kept me from sealing off all the air in the pipe.  While there was some gunky water that came out after I cleared the clog.  I did not have to deal with a flood of smelly water coming out of the pipe clean out.  I had about 2-3 gallons of water and clog (gunk) I collected in a couple of buckets after the clog was cleared.

I doubt I’m the only person that escalated into using a caustic drain cleaner you can pour down a sink drain before they try using a plumbing snake.  I had a couple of my cleanup towels absolutely shredded by the two week old and diluted caustic drain cleaner. If you decide to use a caustic drain cleaner  use a shop vac to get most of the water out of the pipes so the cleaner can work on the clog rather than just sit in your pipes.  A Drain King pressure water blast will clean many clogs depending on the vent pipe location.  Last but least for DIY cleaning out clogs is the plumbing snake that you can buy for under $50.00 and will do most jobs but will take some time and effort.  I have a basement that has exposed plumbing pipes and I’m not dealing with scooting around in a crawl space under a house.  If my house had only “crawl space access” to my plumbing. I would have called a plumber and paid the couple hundred bucks to have the clog cleared rather than DIY the job.

It seems almost all of my DIY plumbing jobs take at least 3 hours.  Now some of that is I’m learning but some of that is I have an old 1910 house that has had been “renovated” a few times and lets say a few of the renovations were not up to to current year (2019) codes.  I’m not exactally a code nazi but when I see some thing as a new DIYer that makes no sense other than “slapping something in place” via this is what I have on hand and it works short term.  I totally get why people now try to renovate to code.  Or at least common sense level of making stuff easy to maintain/repair in the future.  Then again common sense is not that common!

Learning to use the wood stove to heat my house.  SW Idaho winters can be a challenge but the cold and snow are only a problem from November to February.  I heat only with wood heat, though I keep a couple of electric space heaters on hand to warm up cold areas of the house.   I’m doing the wood fires different and burning hot fires in the wood stove.  I’m building up coals for lingering over night, rather than adding wood to smolder/smoke without flames.  It is early fall and it has not been all that cold this month.  What I have noticed is the glass window of my wood stove is staying much cleaner and not “sooting” up and getting dirty like it did last year.  My wood stove window needed cleaning every 1-2 weeks now the window is still mostly clean after burning wood for 3 weeks.  So I think the stove is burning wood more efficiently and cleaner.

Another change is burning poplar like I burn pine or Doug fir.  The wood you can burn is very specific to your region.  Telling me to buy maple or oak firewood in Idaho is nearly impossible or very expensive per cord of wood.  The Inter mountain west have forests of pine, fir and cedar not stands of hardwood trees.  Maple trees are almost considered an invasive species here, as the trees tend to die off quickly after a couple of decades.

Fruit woods like apple, cherry, peach and apricots seem to grow well in this area.  Those trees are not always an available resource for firewood.  So I’ll have to deal with the wood I can afford to buy and burn it as efficiently and cost effective as possible.  Actually it does not matter except for a burning the most efficient clean burn wood fire.  I’m burning poplar clean in my wood stove and my Doug fir is burning clean in the wood stove.  I’m will be warm this winter and I’m very good with that situation!

I cut up more kindling to fill my “kindling box” and I’m worn out.  I did a basic job of splitting some doug fir for 30minutes and then cut into kindling. Splitting wood into kindling takes a lot of time and the work cutting kindling is not easier than splitting wood as it takes a lot more time chopping wood. I split a bunch of doug fir into smaller sizes to be cut into kindling in 20-30 minutes. I spent over an hour cutting some of that wood into kindling and I still did not get through all of the cut wood!  I’m guesstimating but I have at least 4 weeks worth of kindling for myself and mom.

I had to quit cutting kindling because it was getting dark and I was getting tired. I sanded off some rust on my Charcoal grill and added some high heat paint.  Once that paint cures for a day I’ll sand and add another layer of High temp paint.

I survived another birthday and got a few job done.  Not perfect but good enough for me.


Happy Mothers Day all.

May 12, 2019

Mom has had a Fybro flare and is recovering so she did not feel like going out or doing the standard Mom’s day stuff.  She would like me to scrub her bedroom carpet this week for her Mother’s day gift. Gosh that is a simple thing to do and I might bring out the tiller and see how easy/hard it is to dig in the raised beds.

For myself I puttered inside the house and got some cleaning done.  I gave both bathrooms a good cleaning washed all the bath rugs. Washed and wiped down all the kitchen cupboards.  I’ve been ignoring the interior of the house and it needed a good wash down if not a full on Spring cleaning.  I really like using the Lysol all-purpose cleaner for wiping down the cupboards and general cleaning in the kitchen and bathroom.

I got more the starts trans-planted into larger cups/pots. Using the wood tongue depressors have worked great for popping plants out of the small 6 starter paks without destroying the paks!  I transplanted the start into Styrofoam cups and gave my neighbor some beef steak and Cherokee purple tomatoes, celery and a couple types of sweet peppers.  I kept back some of the transplants for myself and Mom, but giving away starts feels great and is the best sort of charity.  It isn’t just giving away garden vegetables, it is giving away the start of a vegetable garden.  Plus, I get to learn how to start plants from seed and transplant, not only into my garden but help others with plants in their gardens.  I think transplanting is a skill I will need once I get the greenhouse built.

Update:  The red potatoes are growing and I added another layer of dirt to those planters.  It seems the Blue potatoes are a bit of a bust for growing in tubs.  That is okay because I think next year I will plant Yukon golds rather than a blue potato. I’m still playing around with the frost cloth as a sun barrier/frost barrier and the anti-tucker dog digging in my raised garden beds.

One size fits all means that one size fits no one well.  I live in high desert so my garden plan probably is not good for someone in Alabama as we have very different climates, rainfall, humidity and temperature.  I think Kansas, Nebraska are “muggy/humid” states.  Well they are compared to SW Idaho.  But no mater where you live/garden building good soil is first and them growing plants that thrive in your area is next for building a good garden.  To give the other states some love…  There is an old joke that some one said their is no humidity in SW Idaho and another person said there is very little humidity in an oven.


Wind warning and a few updates

April 5, 2018

There was a wind alert for Mom’s area. Winds gusting up to 30-35 MPH  this week, but Mom said the tarp over the chicken run handled the wind with no problems.  In fact one of the old chickens even laid an egg.  I think that is one of the first eggs laid out at Mom’s new place so I take that as sign the chicks are feeling more comfortable at the new place.

I’m making up a new batch of the paraffin wax/sawdust fire starters.  Gosh I got spoiled using these fire starters.  I tried going back to  using paper and kindling is a major pain in the butt getting a fire started!  Good news is Mom had some paraffin wax in her boxes so I did not have to purchase any wax this month.  I will have a couple of egg crates of fire starters for Mom and get at least four crates done for myself to have for this month.  I have been going to the local park and picking up pine cones.  A 5 gallon bucket of pine cones and dried twigs that have dropped under pine trees tend to be very dry tinder and most park departments don’t clean up under pine trees.  I figure if I fill a couple of 5 gallon buckets every couple of weeks this summer I can have a couple of trash cans worth of pine cones/tinder before fall and firewood heating season begins this winter.

Update on the vermin problem of mice and cock roaches.  I have not caught any mice since mom moved the chicken house to her place.  I still have a few traps out along with putting out a little cat kibble outside for the cats to catch mice.  The neighborhood cats stop by occasionally for a snack and a little water but they don’t seem to be hunting mice.  It has been about 3 months and I have not seen a single roach in the house. I have cleaned up some of the DE on the counter but have left some DE in the cabinets for residual protection.  At this point I’d say I’m at maintenance level against vermin rather than trying to eliminate an infestation.

Overall I can’t say I was all that impressed with the exterminator.  Don’t get me wrong I think the exterminator did the job just fine. It’s just the nature of vermin to look for an easy meal and you have to be pro-active in stopping them from getting that easy meal.  One thing I never considered about cockroaches is my kitchen plumbing traps.  Pipes collect grease and food debris as well as trap water.  Those pipes are like a cockroach buffet!  Drain plugs and screens are a great way to block off that cockroach buffet.

I want to start incorporating  the use of small amounts of solar energy and lighting daily.  That means using some of those solar camp lights as night lights. Testing out battery packs and recharging stuff like the cell phone and kindle via small solar panels.  I can’t afford to go full solar power but if I can stay below 750 Kwh per month I will save a lot of money on my electric bill.  Where I am there are off peak hours electric use is the weekend and between 9:00 pm and 6 am  week days, so if the solar can’t charge during a cloudy day I can charge the battery pack during off peak hours and charge my gadget whenever it needs a boost.  I’m taking advantage of the new windows for daylight and trying to keep my light usage to just at night.  I have installed LED Light bulbs and I think you should use power when yo need it for a job, but often I would leave a light on just because and not because I needed it for doing some thing specific.  So far it seems to be making a difference in my power costs.


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.